Workforce Development & Education - Iowa Chamber Alliance

Workforce Development & Education

Despite relatively low unemployment in the State, workforce issues remain a top priority for Iowa. Iowa’s businesses are finding it difficult to find qualified candidates with the appropriate skills who are ready to work. The Alliance highlights three key workforce policy areas to broaden its overall workforce development strategy:

Training

It is imperative for Iowa to prioritize workforce training and the Alliance applauds Governor Kim Reynolds for recognizing this need with her dedication to the Future Ready Iowa Initiative. The Initiative will align education, workforce and economic development to improve the educational attainment and training required for Iowa’s future workforce to better meet employer demands and improve worker opportunity.

The following Future Ready Iowa recommendations are supported by the Iowa Chamber Alliance:

  • Establishment of the Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship and Future Ready Iowa Grant Programs.
  • Alignment and expanded support for Iowans who are beginning or returning to complete college or career training.
  • Expansion of high-quality work-based learning experiences in high-demand careers – an opportunity for employers to increase pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship and internship programs. Also, expansion of the STEM BEST (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) program started by the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.
  • Identification of early academic approaches that effectively prepare all students for a changing world including the expansion after-school programs for children.
  • Development of a grassroots strategy to engage the business community, regional workforce boards, STEM regions and other current and future regional collaborations.

The Iowa Chamber Alliance supports programs and training opportunities such as the Iowa Industrial New Jobs Training Program (260E) and the Iowa Jobs Training Program (260F), among others. These programs expand Iowa’s workforce through new employee training, increasing employees’ skill sets, and improving productivity for employers.

Schools

Preparing Iowa’s future workforce with a quality education that readies high school graduates for either a four-year college education or a vocational training course, without need for academic remediation, remains a priority. This will require continued implementation of the education reforms adopted in 2013: sufficient funding for schools; a continued emphasis on STEM; continued adherence to the Iowa Core and a quality assessment tool; and additional reforms to elevate Iowa’s student achievement. Additionally, vocational education in K-12 must be updated.

As the second largest budget appropriation category, the level of funding for K-12 schools is a perennial debate. That discussion has been contentious and, at times, taken on political overtones. Given the vital role Iowa’s public schools play in the development of our future workforce, the Alliance urges action on K-12 funding that allows schools to certify their budgets on time, is equitable across the range of Iowa’s diverse school districts, and is at a level that is both appropriate and sustainable.

The Alliance encourages all levels of education – K-12 to community colleges to public and private colleges and universities – to understand the needs of the employment marketplace to ensure workforce-ready graduates. There should be a conscious pursuit of alignment, coordination, and collaboration between business, government, and education to offer seamless opportunities that best meet the needs of Iowa’s students and the workplace. The Alliance supports and values robust vocational and higher education to further develop a solid talent pipeline.

Talent Attraction & Retention

Talent attraction and retention are key priorities for Iowa’s business community. It’s critical that Iowa leaders develop strategies to attract and retain talent in the state by working to make Iowa a desirable place to live with robust communities and a high quality of life for residents. We need forward-looking strategies to keep Iowans in the state, attract new Iowans, and welcome new Americans to make their homes in Iowa. Securing sustained, reliable funding of the Enhance Iowa initiative must be an important part of this strategy.

 

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