CEDAR RAPIDS — Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Fred Hubbell called Monday for more state investment in training programs to prepare Iowans for good-paying jobs and in improving broadband availability to encourage job creation throughout the state.
Hubbell, a retired businessman seeking the 2018 Democratic nomination, blamed Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and the GOP-controlled Legislature for shortsighted budget practices and economic development deals with out-of-state companies for little growth in personal incomes and in Iowa’s gross domestic product.
Hubbell made his comments after visiting Five Rivers Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee training center in Cedar Rapids Monday. The stop was part of a four-day, 14-site “Get Incomes Rising” tour.
“We need to make sure we have incomes rising all over — urban and rural — because so many Iowans are not getting the quality of life they deserve from the incomes they have,” Hubbell said. “So they work two to three jobs to make ends meet, and that’s not acceptable.”
Instead of offering Apple $20 million in future state tax benefits to create 50 permanent jobs, as the Iowa Economic Development Authority did earlier this year, Hubbell argued for investing in job training such as the carpenters’ program that helps get communities “growing from the ground up.”
“We’re not attracting the kind of jobs that push incomes up, and we’re not filling the jobs that are available that have higher incomes,” he said.
Although there is a demand for carpenters, Hubbell said job training programs such as the apprenticeship center are not operating at capacity.
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The Cedar Rapids training center has about 130 apprentices in the program, with capacity for another 25, according to training director John DeLany.
In addition to a lack of state funds, Hubbell said parents and high school counselors aren’t doing enough to help students recognize that these are not only good quality jobs, “but they pay well, they don’t require student debt and they people a very teach transferable, good quality skill.”
DeLany said apprentices, who can expect to earn $26 an hour upon completion, start at 60 percent of that with benefits including health care and pension. They receive a five percent increase every six months while in the program.
At stops Sunday in southeast Iowa, Hubbell said he heard from business owners that spotty and intermittent broadband accessibility is a “significant inhibitor to job growth.”
“We need to get it more fully implemented so people can work where they live rather than have to move for a job,” he said.
Hubbell continued his tour Monday with stops in Baldwin, Dubuque and Cedar Falls.
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