Remove obstacles to expand Quad Cities’ workforce pool

The Quad Cities region joins communities across the nation in a talent shortage which is impacting local businesses.

Each day, 10,000 baby boomers are reaching the age of 65. Last year alone, 3.2 million people left the workforce. Birthrates in the country are declining. The pandemic caused many in the workforce to reevaluate work-life balance. Researchers and demographers are labeling this as the “great resignation.” 

There are many ways we can address this challenge. First, as a community we need to assure everyone has ample opportunities by providing programs and training aligned with their passions. Education and training institutions can work closely with businesses to understand the skills and quantities of the needed workforce, then tailor programs to meet those needs. 

We need to understand and remove obstacles that prevent people from participating in training and education programs, whether it is the cost of tuition, child care, transportation or the ability to pay for school supplies. There are many supports already in place that address these challenges, including work the Quad Cities Chamber is doing, but as a region we can provide more. 

Second, employers need to evolve hiring and retention practices and creativity is required. At the recent Chamber Talent Business Forum, Jim Morgan from MRA stressed employer flexibility, not only in work schedules but also tailoring benefits, such as: providing loan repayment for a newly-graduated hire, child care assistance to a young parent, boosting 401(k) contributions for an employee in their 40s and more vacation for those nearing retirement. He encouraged coaching and mentoring as well as developing a corporate culture of inclusion and people first. 

Finally, we can become a region where new residents want to live through a balance of work-life-play opportunities. This requires current Quad Citizens to tell everyone they meet what makes our region great. We need to be a welcoming and friendly community to everyone moving here. 

The chamber is convening and collaborating with many partners to address these issues and be the region we all desire, however, to be successful everyone needs to participate. There are many wonderful Quad Citizens working to make our region second to none. Join us and make a difference. QC, That’s Where we can make this region a destination for talent and the home we envision. 

Mike Oberhaus is chief strategy officer for the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce.

Get the free QCBJ email newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the people, companies and issues that impact business in the  Quad Cities area.