Government

Reynolds stops in Cedar Rapids to talk workforce needs

The governor on a listening tour for her Future Ready Iowa initiative

Governor Kim Reynolds speaks as Principal Financial Group President and CEO Dan Houston looks on during a stop on Govern
Governor Kim Reynolds speaks as Principal Financial Group President and CEO Dan Houston looks on during a stop on Governor Reynolds’ Future Ready Iowa tour at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center in Cedar Rapids on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa’s businesses need to expose students to workplace experiences earlier if the state is going to meet its workforce needs, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Friday.

“The more work-based learning that we can get in front of these young people, sooner rather than later, it’s just going to be a win-win for everybody,” Reynolds told a crowd of 100 on a stop of her Future Ready Iowa listening tour.

As an example, Reynolds said companies should start recruiting interns and apprentices who are in high school, instead of only looking at the university level.

Dan Houston, chief executive officer of Des Moines-based Principal Financial Group, said companies need to improve how they communicate opportunities to students. While there are a plethora of apprenticeships, internships and other workforce development programs, Houston said “young people just don’t know they’re there.”

“You would think in this day and age of all this social media and all we take for granted, they must be getting it — they’re not getting it,” he said.

The tour is a part of the governor’s office push to have 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce earn post-high school education or training by 2025. To get to that point, another 127,700 Iowans will need such training, according to a report released in July.

Earlier this week, Reynolds’s office unveiled a set of five recommendations from the Future Ready Iowa Alliance to attain that goal.

They include:

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• Setting up a scholarship for Iowans who want an associate degree from Iowa colleges “leading to high-demand jobs.” Another scholarship was proposed for Iowans who have half the credits needed for a bachelor’s degree and want to complete their program.

• Expanding the support system for those starting or returning college and career training.

• Expanding access to pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships, and internships.

• Identifying “academic approaches that effectively prepare all students for a changing world,” such as after-school programs.

• Developing a grass-roots strategy to engage businesses, workforce board and other stakeholders.

The announcement did not include how Iowa would pay for the recommendations or many details about how they would be implemented.

Asked how Iowa would fund the scholarships, Reynolds said her administration will examine the possibilities between now and the start of the 2018 legislative session.

“We’re going to take a look at it. We’ve got to see what legislation needs to be drafted to put that in place,” she told The Gazette.

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; matthew.patane@thegazette.com

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