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Governor wants Iowans more-educated to increase job prospects

DES MOINES – Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg announced new Future Ready Iowa Alliance recommendations Tuesday. The recommendations are a major step forward in achieving the Reynolds/Gregg administration’s No. 1 goal: 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce having education or training beyond high school by the year 2025. In order to achieve that goal, an additional 127,700 Iowans need to earn post-secondary degrees and other credentials.

The Alliance’s first recommendation is to establish the Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship and Future Ready Iowa Grant Program. The scholarship will bridge the financial divide with money for Iowans seeking up to an associate degree at Iowa colleges and universities leading to high-demand jobs. The Future Ready Iowa Grant is for Iowans seeking a bachelor’s degree who already have earned more than half the credits in a major leading to a high-demand job.

The Alliance’s second recommendation is to better align and expand the existing ecosystem of support for Iowans who are beginning or returning to complete college or career training, whether they are brand new high school graduates or adults who want to upskill, with a focus on low-income Iowans and Iowans who are underrepresented minorities.

The Alliance’s third recommendation is to expand high-quality work-based learning experiences in high-demand careers to all students, but particularly those who are underserved. This is an opportunity for employers to increase pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship and internship programs and make sure there is equity in access, both in urban and rural areas.

It is also an opportunity to expand the STEM BEST (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) program started by the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. Students explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers through hands-on, real-world projects designed by industry professionals and educators, with amazing opportunities to connect with their communities.

The Alliance’s fourth recommendation is to identify early academic approaches that effectively prepare all students for a changing world. This could include expanding after-school programs for children.

The Alliance’s fifth recommendation is to develop a grassroots strategy to engage the business community, regional workforce boards, STEM regions and other current and future regional collaborations. This will allow for the mapping of existing regional and local workforce partnership and filling any gaps existing within a community or region.

“I am grateful to the Alliance members for all the time and expertise they invested over the past year to make these recommendations, which I intend to move forward,” Gov. Reynolds said. “My administration is working on creating opportunities. These recommendations are about the opportunity for 127,700 additional Iowans to have great careers and a bigger paycheck.

“An entry-level STEM job pays an average $42,000 a year,” she continued. “A non-STEM job starts at an average $27,000. That’s real money to fund vacations, cars and gadgets for young graduates. For older graduates, that’s a down payment on a home, saving for college for their kids and financial freedom from more debt and worry.”

“This will be an all-out effort with employers, local schools, chambers, economic developers and nonprofits dedicating their money, time and energy to improving careers and financial stability for Iowans,” Lt. Gov. Gregg said.

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