Workforce Development meeting is Wednesday

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


The Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG) is holding its annual Workforce Development meeting beginning at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Dallmeyer Hall on the Washington County Fairgrounds.

WEDG director Ed Raber said the event is for employers from Washington County and the southern end of the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor. He said the point of the meeting is to provide information about programs that exist in Iowa as well as creating an opportunity for networking. Raber said the state has sponsored a program that hadn?t caught on in Washington County called ?Homebase Iowa.?

?Our event is just after Veterans Day and Homebase Iowa is a program that the state has to try to hook up employers who are willing to consider veterans who are getting done with their active duty and are looking to go back to civilian life,? Raber said. ?They might be anywhere in the country. Regardless whether there are Iowans there they may have a representative from the state who attends to help those individuals look at Iowa and get a resume and employers who are part of the program are able to look at those. it is a way to grow the labor force, even if it is very small numbers. If we can get them to move to Washington County, that is a big win.?

He said another program deals with apprenticeships. Raber said the Kirkwood Regional Center offers academies in many areas that might lead to a trade or vocation that can stand on its own without a 4-year degree. He said the state has a program called Iowa Registered Apprenticeships. He said the state is encouraging companies hiring apprentices. Raber also said WEDG encourages employers to accept job shadows.

?When we have such low unemployment and such a small number of people to match up with the jobs that are out there, nurturing people when they are still in school to think about careers around here is really a requirement for most employers to be engaged in that process,? he said.

Raber said according to the latest information he has collected, unemployment in Washington County was at 2.6 percent. He also said that the total labor force numbers hadn?t declined and has remained steady at 12,800. He said the highest the workforce has ever been is 12,900.

?There are about 300 people listed as unemployed and seeking employment,? Raber said. ?In Washington County that number tends to be 300 or 400 people in the entire county.?

He also said that only about one-third of the people listed as unemployed are actually drawing unemployment benefits. Raber also said this is the same trend for the entire state.

For more information, see the WEDG website at or the WEDG Facebook page.