Can this $5-million fund plug the construction skills gap in Iowa, USA?

Can this $5-million fund plug the construction skills gap in Iowa, USA?
Iowa, USA's construction industry faces a skills gap.
Published: 5 June 2019 - 8:45 a.m.
By: Neha Bhatia

American construction trade group Master Builders of Iowa has – with the support of Governor Kim Reynolds and Lt Governor Adam Gregg – rolled out a $5m endowment to help the local building industry plug the talent and skills gap faced by construction companies in Iowa, with the amount to offer resources that can complement construction education and workforce recruitment in Iowa’s commercial construction industry.

Director of public affairs at Master Builders of Iowa, Ben Hammes, writes in a blog post for the organisation that the firm’s recently concluded member survey revealed that labour issues remained a key industry challenge to tackle – one he described as “a resounding theme that is not confined to commercial construction, but one that we must address head on for the future of our industry”.

In his post, Hammes adds: “When asking our members what the top issues their company faces today, ‘skill-sets of workers’ and ‘workforce development/labour shed problems’ rise above all the others.”

Fully operational as of this month, the $5m endowment is called Master Builders of Iowa Workforce Opportunities Require Knowledge and Skills Endowment – or MBI Works Endowment –and is operating as a not-for-profit.”

“Experts from the commercial construction industry along with other business and state partners have been carefully chosen to serve on the MBI Works Endowment board of directors,” Hammes explains.

“They alone will evaluate request for proposals (RFPs) and determine how funds from the endowment are to be allocated.

“The MBI Works Endowment board will take into consideration proposals that are focused on construction career advocacy, as well as other initiatives focused on creating interest in the commercial construction industry.

“This isn’t about scholarships, but instead about relationship building and partnerships that will move the needle in addressing our skills gap,” he adds.

Interested parties are encouraged to fill out the RFP that can be found at

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