Collaboration and teamwork, not statewide procrastination, will achieve the Future Ready Iowa objectives by 2025.
Outlined and championed by Governor Kim Reynolds and former Governor Terry Branstad, the goal of Future Ready Iowa is for 70 percent of all Iowans to have earned a two- or four-year college degree, industry recognized certificate or other credential that meets employer need by 2025.
Everyone has to work to close this gap, and Northeast Iowa Community College’s (NICC) mindset is focused on cultivating valuable partnerships that encourage input and dialogue to make Future Ready Iowa a reality. Educators, state and local governments, business leaders and workforce agencies all bring fresh ideas to the table to bring the goal
“Future Ready Iowa has one Executive Committee and five working groups: College and Career Readiness, Postsecondary Credentials, Upskilling Current Workforce, High-Demand Careers and Communications and Outreach,” explained NICC President Liang Chee Wee, Ph.D., who chairs the Communications and Outreach working group. “The working groups formulated and proposed key priorities to the Executive Committee in June 2017. The final list of priorities will be announced in October.”
The College has launched local grassroots efforts to reach the goals of Future Ready Iowa through work-based learning programs, Northeast Iowa Career Learning Link, sector boards and business and community boards.
Work-based learning strategies emphasize hands-on, interdisciplinary and experiential teaching that introduce high school and middle school students to potential careers.
Collaboration with employer partners through Northeast Iowa Career Learning Link, a grant-funded program offered at the College for high school juniors and seniors, connects students with employers that offer mentoring opportunities, job shadows, internships and career experiences (see story, pg. 10). With a goal of serving 712 students in four years, the program has already exceeded expectations by serving 725 students at the beginning of year three!
Moreover, the creation of sector boards and business and community boards is bringing together employers, educators, community developers, regional workforce development boards and other stakeholders in the eight-county district to work toward educational and workforce solutions.
These boards address the short and long-term needs of industries throughout northeast Iowa, as well as educational and workforce skills in communities, according to Wendy Mihm-Herold, Ph.D., NICC vice president of business and community solutions.
“The collaborative work of these boards fits seamlessly with the mission of Future Ready Iowa. Our sector boards identify and enhance the skills of current employees, so they are competitive and local businesses thrive. Career Learning Link is bridging that important gap between high school students, college and well-paying careers. When students have meaningful early connections to a future career, they are more likely to complete their college degree,” Mihm-Herold said. “Together, we are ensuring that all students and employees have the education, training and high-level skills needed to enter high-growth, in-demand careers.”
How can you help achieve the state of Iowa’s educational and
workforce goals for 2025? Contact Northeast Iowa Community College to learn more.