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Significant Strides for Workforce Development in the Midwest and Canada

As I visit AED members throughout the Midwest and Canada, a common thread of discussion is the critical need to recruit and educate technicians to serve our industry. “Workforce development” is the catchphrase we all hear and use. I want to share with you a couple of great examples of the efforts being put forth in Iowa and Ontario.

First, a couple of thoughts about the importance of workforce development from Abby Herman of Affordable Colleges Online:

“Across the world and all industries, a successful business – and economy – is dependent on educated, highly skilled workers. But how does one gain the necessary skills to keep up with a demanding and changing job market? Many experts agree the answer lies in workforce development. The goal of workforce development is to enhance the skills of those already in the workforce as well as provide tangible and relevant skills to those looking for employment. From courses at a community college to certificate programs at a technical school to on-the-job training, individuals can find a diverse selection of workforce development opportunities to meet their professional goals.”

And this from U.S. Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee:

“I often hear from business owners, employers, administrators and students who tell me of the need for quality education and adequate training for today’s workplace. Just as a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for health care, it will not work for education and workforce training. Each state – and each region – is different. Empowering local officials – including school administrators, teachers, workforce development boards and employers in the community – is critical to creating a workforce that will be able to succeed in an increasingly specialized and highly-skilled economy.” 

To this end, I was pleased to participate in two key workforce events. The first one was in Des Moines, Iowa, where I was honored to speak at an Employer Resource Review Meeting hosted by the Iowa Department of Education’s Division of Community Colleges & Workforce Preparation. I was joined by AED members Logan Contractors Supply, Rueters Equipment, Rexco Equipment, Star Equipment, Road Machinery & Supplies and Wacker Neuson Corp. 

Key takeaways from the meeting included the following:

- Education and training beyond high school is the new minimum to earn a living wage.

- Careers today and in the future require advanced knowledge and technical skills.

- Information was shared about “Future Ready Iowa,” an initiative to build Iowa’s talent pipeline, which was created after Iowa received a National Governors Association grant.

We also enjoyed a robust discussion on career and technical education (CTE) in Iowa, which features organized educational programs offering a sequence of courses directly related to the preparation of individuals for employment in current or emerging occupations. These programs include competency-based applied learning, which contributes to an individual’s academic knowledge, higher-order reasoning and problem-solving skills, work attitudes, general employability skills, and occupation-specific skills.

I was then pleased to attend a workforce development meeting at Vermeer Canada’s Brampton, Ontario, location along with AED members Amaco Equipment, Hub Equipment, High Reach Equipment, Toromont CAT, Liebherr Canada, Equipment Sales & Service, Strongco and Wajax.

The purpose of this meeting was to form an advisory committee to assist two local high schools – Bear Creek Secondary School in Barrie, Ontario, and Banting Memorial High School in Alliston, Ontario – as they work to develop technical training career pathways.

Both schools are part of the Simcoe County District School Board that oversees the Career Centre, a department with adult and continuing education, which is aligned with the network of Employment Ontario Service Providers funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development. As part of the network, they connect individuals, employers and communities to build the highly skilled, highly educated workforce Ontario needs to be competitive.

Look for more great things to come from AED members in Canada and the Midwest.

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