Growth Alliance hears updates

An aging work force could create difficulties for the area economy, according to Dennis Plautz, chief executive officer of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.

The average age of employed workers in Webster County is 51, according to data presented by Plautz at the Alliance’s quarterly meeting Friday.

“Without those front-end people moving in, that will stop us quicker than anything,” he said.

Recruiting – and retaining – younger workers remains a challenge that the Alliance is working to overcome, according to Plautz.

“One of the issues we see is that young people don’t assimilate into the community,” he said. “We hear that young people may come, stay a year or two and leave.”

The Alliance will continue to support events designed to foster a sense of community, according to Plautz.

On April 18, the Alliance, city of Fort Dodge and Young Professionals conducted Spring In Fort Dodge, a social event to which employees hired since 2012 were invited and at which around 25 local clubs and organizations presented information.

Many of the clubs that participated were successful in recruiting new members, Plautz said.

To help build a skilled work force among area young people, the Alliance is backing the Skilled Iowa initiative created by Iowa Workforce Development, according to Kelly Halsted, economic development director for the Alliance.

All seniors at Fort Dodge Senior High will take the National Career Readiness Certificate test on May 1, said Halsted. The test assesses an individual’s prowess in applied mathematics, reading for content and locating information. Businesses who join the Skilled Iowa program agree to give priority to considering prospective employees who have completed the tests.