Iowa Republicans advanced numerous bills intended to improve workforce development ahead of Friday’s funnel deadline. Lawmakers looking to stem the devastating workforce shortage pushed bills to change aspects of state code regulating the work minors can do, a measure that would allow immigrant physicians’ medical degrees from certain countries to qualify them to practice in Iowa and a bill requiring school administrators to teach some classes to alleviate workforce strain in education.
Whatever we can do to keep Iowa’s workforce strong, they say. Lawmakers are lifting every legislative rock to find ways to address the challenge. We agree — workforce is critical and it’s good to see lawmakers looking for every angle to broaden our pool of applicants.
Expanding workforce isn’t just about tweaking regulations and qualifications in the job market, however. Goal one for lawmakers of all stripes should be to encourage young Iowans and Iowa college students to stay in the state, to build their lives and their families here.
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Yes, we have the jobs. But it takes a lot more than jobs to draw and retain young workers. Businesses didn’t drum up signing bonuses and flexible work schedules and pingpong in the breakroom just to be kind. In the whole new world where workers hold the cards and get to pick and choose where they might want to work, culture plays a huge role.
It’s not just about workplace culture. There’s a reason that cities are adding kayaking launch areas and splash pads and bike lanes. City officials know how important it is to have an inviting community for young professionals.
So, what makes a state appeal to young people? Beautiful scenery and outdoor activities? Sure, Iowa has that. Shopping, dining, entertainment venues? OK, not as strong as some states, but we have our share. Welcoming environment? (Record scratch.)
Here’s where Iowa is failing.
Let’s poll people younger than 35 and see how they feel about these issues:
Public universities being forced to disband their diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
Banning same-sex marriage by amending the Iowa Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Prohibiting teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation to students through sixth grade.
Allowing materials deemed unsuitable by just a few parents in one area of Iowa to potentially be removed from schools statewide.
Requiring schools to receive parental approval before referring to transgender students by their identified gender.
Requiring students of any age to use restrooms and locker rooms associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.
Banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender and nonbinary youth younger than 18.
Requiring school districts to immediately tell parents if they believe a student is transgender.
All of these things have been put forth in the Iowa Legislature — some by only a handful of lawmakers. But still the headlines send a message to young people. “Welcome to Iowa, where we’re turning back the progress made in rejecting discrimination and cracking down on what students are allowed to read and learn.”
There’s a reason that high school students from Ames to Dubuque walked out of class this past week to voice opposition to the legislation they see being in their state.
We need these kids to want to stay here. We need them to see themselves here as future workers, as future leaders. Most young people are looking for a place that’s moving forward and treating people equally. And they aren’t seeing it in Iowa.
If lawmakers are concerned about tomorrow’s workforce, it’s important to stop pushing legislation aimed at tightening school policies and state law regarding gender identity, sexual orientation and equity, diversity and inclusion.
Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board.
So morality should take a back seat to financial considerations?
What exactly is immoral about teaching diversity Darlene?
Diversity? "Requiring students of any age to use restrooms and locker rooms associated with the sex assigned to them at birth."
As a life long Iowan, I'm working in another state that is not hostile to employees like Iowa has become under Republican control.
Guess the TH editorial board should have considered these issues when broad brush endorsing Republican candidates last election cycle….,
There is nothing wrong with protecting children or their parents' rights to make decisions for their children.
What are parents protecting their children from? An imaginary boogie man.
Exactly. People imagining they are something they are not.
I agree 100%. If my children weren't grown, I'd seriously consider moving from Iowa. As is, they have left as have their friends, taking considerable talents elsewhere. This hate-filled and self serving rhetoric of Kim Reynolds and her cronies is forcing us backwards to places we fought to evolve
from. It's embarrassing to say I'm from this Iowa!
Then move out
Why is the left so insistent on sexualizing children?
What parent wants to move to Iowa when Republicans' top priorities are defunding schools, banning books, and openly discriminating against Iowans?
Who wants to constantly bow to special interest groups and groomers?
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