Kirkwood releases results from area workforce survey

Report features insights and recommendations for workforce issues facing region

Kirkwood Community College has released the results from the Skills 2024 Survey, a report created to compile information from nearly 140 area businesses regarding the future needs of the regional workforce.

According to a release sent by the college, the survey, distributed to employers across the college’s seven-county service area of Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn, and Washington counties, showed three common themes of major concern among respondents; lack of qualified candidates, small labor pool and recruitment and retention struggles.

The results revealed employers are concerned that the current pool of workers and available applicants do not have the skills, education and training to meet many job position requirements. The absence of soft skills, such as work ethic and communication skills, was of particular concern.

In addition, businesses are frustrated with the small number of applicants for open positions in their organizations. Many respondents also indicated they struggle to recruit quality employees and face major difficulties in retaining those already working for them, according to the release.

According to Kirkwood Vice President of Continuing Education and Training Services Jasmine Almoayyed, a solution to these employer concerns may be closer than many realize.

“Employers in our region are facing what may be the most constrained labor market in recent memory,” said Ms. Almoayyed, in the release. “If a business can’t find the right employees, it becomes detrimental to their overall success and can destabilize the organization. Unfortunately, this problem is prevalent throughout the seven-county area. If our workforce issues are not addressed, it could be damaging to the regional economy. The results of this survey show the need for action, which is right in Kirkwood’s wheelhouse. We’ve been helping businesses to combat these very issues for a long time and have helped many of our partners succeed by developing strong and talented employee rosters.”

According to the report, employers can combat these workforce issues in a few ways. First, employers must invest in employee retention strategies such as conducting and acting on company-wide culture assessments, developing mission/vision/values statements, and investing in their current employees with professional development opportunities. The report also suggests businesses must take a more active role in directing training, education and apprenticeship programs. Additionally, employers must use nontraditional tactics to combat workforce shortages.

“We are here to help employers navigate the number of resources and tools that exist,” said Ms. Almoayyed. “Our experienced staff can help any business attract and retain the people they need–and we’re always ready to get to work.”