October 20, 2016 by Matthew Rezab
The economy in Iowa and across the nation is changing, and the workforce needed to meet the new demands of businesses must change with it.
The Midwest Partnership for Economic Development hosted its Employer Educator Summit at Wild Rose Casino in Jefferson on Oct. 13 to help bring educators and businesses together to make sure those workers are available.
It’s going to take all of us working together to innovate and replicate best practices to end up getting what we’re looking for,” keynote speaker Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said.
“We have to give young people incentives to stay here in Iowa and let them know there are good jobs here.”
The summit attracted around 200 educators, businesspeople and students to learn about what is being done to match education with job skills.
Reynolds, who also serves as director of the Governor’s STEM Council, said programs the STEM Council has put into place are already paying dividends.
“STEM careers are growing three times faster than non-STEM careers and pay much better,” she said. “Kids who take STEM score better on assessment tests. It’s really necessary if we’re going to remain innovative and competitive as a state.”
Last year, 46 businesses donated almost $560,000 to the council to promote STEM education.
In a poll, nine of 10 Iowans said they think STEM should be a priority in their local school district, but only 46 percent believe that it is.
Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development, said the key is going to be educating people to the level they need to be educated. She said 68 percent of Iowa’s jobs in 2025 will require more than a high school diploma.
“That doesn’t mean you need to be a doctor,” Townsend said. “Whether it’s a certificate, two-year or four-year degree, we want kids to know they can and something they like in all kinds of different fields.”
She added that nearly 600,000 baby boomers in Iowa will be retiring in the next five years. She said there are enough jobs opening up for every Iowa student if they have the skills to perform those jobs.
“With the Future Ready Iowa Initiative, we want to figure out the best way to make sure that we have a work-ready workforce and we have the skilled workers we have already projected we’re going to need by 2025,” she said.
The governor has set a goal that mandates 70 percent of students have some kind of education beyond high school by 2025.
“As we look toward new initiatives we want to make sure we have all stakeholders at the table. Educators, businesses, students and parents.”
State Sen. William Dotzler, D-Waterloo, said more than just the jobs are needed to keep skilled, young professionals in the state.
“Young people want entertainment, they want a coffee shop on the corner by their new downtown apartment,” Dotzler said. “Iowa can be a great place for young professionals to live.”
Courtesy of Matthew Rezab, The Jefferson Herald, 10/20/16.
Jefferson Herald Employer Educator Summit job skills Greene County keynote speaker Iowa Workforce Development STEM workforce issues Western Iowa Advantage Senator Dotzler WIAD Wild Rose Casino Jefferson Kim Reynolds Lt. Governor Beth Townsend