The National Council for the American Worker is responsible for developing a national strategy to train or retrain the workers needed in high-demand industries; the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board seeks to increase the employment rate by improving jobs data transparency and promoting lifelong learning; both entities were established by an Executive Order which President Trump signed on 19 July 2018.
On Friday, 19 July 2019—exactly one year later— Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds all toured the HST (Helpful Smiles Technology) Innovation Center of Hy-Vee outside of Grimes; along with Eric Holcomb, the Governor of Indiana, Gov. Reynolds is a member of the Advisory Board.
A roundtable with Hy-Vee employees served as an appropriate celebration of the first anniversary of the Pledge to America’s Workers, the initiative under which the Administration has asked companies and trade groups to commit to expanding programs to skill or reskill workers of all ages; over 200 companies and organizations have signed the pledge, creating nearly 10 million new educational and training opportunities over the next five years; Advisor Trump explicitly thanked Hy-Vee for pledging to train 15,000 new workers (https://tinyurl.com/y3gg8geg), and noted that the Administration is prioritizing earn-while-you-learn programs.
Randy Edeker, chairman and CEO of Hy-Vee, showcased several employees who had benefited from the paid training; he revealed that the company had hired 823 veterans in the last six months, and that it would add 1600 new positions in the next six months. Sec. Azar, who spent five years as president of the American division of Eli Lilly and Company, praised Hy-Vee for employing the first hearing-impaired pharmacist in the United States; in response to a question from the Secretary about pharmacies in rural Iowa, Chairman Edeker indicated that they do take on the role of “neighborhood health care” in rural areas.
The governor stated that she was impressed by the facility, which she was visiting for the first time; she noted that Hy-Vee is the largest private employer in the state and recalled her own stint as a checker at Hy-Vee long ago; she reported a 19% increase in registered apprenticeship programs in the state over the last year, and that Iowa is number one in the nation in the number of high school students enrolled in community college.
The commitment from Hy-Vee under the Pledge to America’s Workers is the second largest in the state, exceeded only by the 30,000 training opportunities promised by the Iowa Business Council. Other in-state pledges include CRST, 200; Accu-Mold LLC, 55; Dyersville Die Cast, 40; Theisen’s, 30; Sukup Manufacturing, 20; and the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, 14.
The Innovation Center has on-site indoor athletic amenities; Ivanka took two shots with a basketball, and the governor, one, and each showed real potential!