Dubuque Manufacturers Looking for Workers

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

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By Jay Knoll

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Many people looking for work in Dubuque say there are no jobs out there. Manufacturers there say they have lots of jobs, but no skilled workers to fill vacant positions. Educators say there’s a disconnect between the unemployed and employers looking to hire.

There’s a lot of work to be done at Giese Manufacturing. Workers are trying to keep up, but managers say they need more employees.

“There’s a shortage of those employees right now,” said Giese Manufacturing’s Greg Kubitz.

Clint Sharkey recently lost his job after a Dubuque warehouse moved out of state. Now he’s on the prowl for a new position. “Eighteen years at a warehouse...you don’t use the skills that they’re looking for now,” Sharkey said.

Sharkey is taking classes at Northeast Iowa Community College to learn those needed skills. Manufacturing employers say that’s exactly what people like Sharkey should do. “We are looking for employees with skills in C.N.C machines, also running a press breaker,” Kubitz said.

Some employers believe the worker shortage has a lot to do with the desire to earn a four year college degree. “There’s always a big push after high school to go to college and then the trades get left behind,” Kubitz said. They say now is the time to fill that employment gap. About 20 students are enrolled in Northeast Iowa Community College’s free C.N.C training program. It aims to help unemployed workers gain the skills needed to work at many of Dubuque’s manufacturing companies.

“The jobs are out there, you just gotta go find them,” Sharkey said.

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