Government

Task force recommends improvements to technical education programs

Ideas intended to address skills gap in work force

The Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, photographed on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)
The Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, photographed on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)

DES MOINES — A state task force has recommended changes to improve career and technical education programs designed to introduce students to middle-skill jobs.

The task force suggests stronger career guidance and academic planning, student access to a wide array of work-based learning experiences and expanded licensure training to address a shortage of qualified career and technical instructors.

“These recommendations have the potential to revitalize (career and technical education programs) so that Iowa students have access to high-quality, globally competitive programs that lead to rewarding careers,” Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “They are in line with several efforts already underway to reduce a shortage of skilled workers and boost economic growth.”

The task force, created in 2013 by state lawmakers, had members representing public schools, postsecondary schools, businesses and labor groups, among others.

It was created to address what business leaders say is a skills gap in the state’s workforce. Businesses say there is a shortage of workers qualified to perform jobs that require more than a high-school diploma but less than a four-year college degree.

“CTE (career and technical education programs) is central to preparing skilled workers, and the task force recommendations provide a road map to deliver world-class opportunities,” Wise said.

The task force presented its report to the state education department on Monday. Among its recommendations:

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• Promote career and college readiness through thoughtful career guidance and purposeful academic and technical planning.

• Provide high-quality career and technical education programs to prepare students for higher-level, specialized academic and technical training.

• Provide students with access to high-quality, work-based learning experiences.

• Address the shortage of instructors by expanding opportunities to obtain academic and technical training in licensure areas.

• Create a statewide system of regional centers to provide increased and equitable access to high-quality career and technical programs.

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