February 12, 2019 at 10:55 PM
By Jennifer Banta
Vice President, Advocacy and External Affairs
As the 2019 legislative session gets underway, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has identified workforce as an area of focus for her administration. In particular, the governor is targeting training and education initiatives to help our students overcome future challenges.
_The economy is changing, the demand of the workforce is changing, and our education system must change with it._
– Governor Kim Reynolds at the Condition of the State address
As a region, we are working to address these issues as well. By focusing on workforce training and career readiness programs at both the state and local levels, we feel that our region is uniquely positioned to be a leader in innovative educational initiatives.
Future Ready Iowa Act
Gov. Reynolds is asking the Legislature to appropriate $20 million to fund the Future Ready Iowa Act. This act was passed last year to address the socioeconomic, ethnic and racial achievement gaps in kindergarten through 12th grade and increase equity in post-secondary enrollment. The primary goal is to raise Iowa_s post-secondary graduation rates to 70 percent by 2025.
As employers demand workers with higher skill sets, the Future Ready Iowa Act will help our state remain competitive. It will give more Iowans an opportunity to succeed in the new economy.
STEM education continues to be a major focus for Iowa_s talent pipeline. Gov. Reynolds has requested an additional $1 million in STEM funding for new and innovative K-12 programs through the STEM Council. Computer Science is Elementary, which was created through STEM grants, is a public-private partnership. By weaving computer coding into class lessons, Computer Science Is Elementary will transform six high-poverty elementary schools into models of computer science instruction.
Locally we are addressing the unique challenges of our region through a new initiative called ICR Future. The goal is to prepare young people for success though work-based learning experiences.
The ICR Future Coalition has created icrfuture.org, an online hub that allows students, teachers, and parents to quickly access the resources they need to understand high demand careers, salaries and skills. They can also get information on area career-based learning opportunities through Junior Achievement, Workplace Learning Connection and iJag, to name a few.
_Students often pursue careers they can see and experience. Exposing high schoolers to high-demand career paths and regional employers can help increase the number of students who choose those paths for their future and also choose to stay and work in ICR IOWA as adults._
– Kate Moreland, Director of Career Development, ICR IOWA
The burden of training our future workforce does not fall on educators_ shoulders alone. In this fast-paced technology age, it_s up to the business community to give our students the hands-on experiences they need to be successful. By collaborating, employers and educators can provide a much richer learning experience for area students — and give them a connection to the community that might encourage them to stay after graduation.
The Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce is a non-partisan organization and evaluates issues based solely on our mission of fostering a better business environment.The Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce is not affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. For more information, please visit www.iowacityarea.com.