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Sector Strategies align programs with workforce needs

By Jacque Goodman

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Jacque Goodman

Iowa Valley recognizes the importance of bringing together community partners to identify and align programs and strategies to meet current workforce demands. For the past three years, IVCCD has been involved in the implementation of sector partnerships. Sector partnerships align education, economic, and workforce development systems to address industry recognized labor market needs.

Why the emphasis on sector partnerships? Iowa Valley is committed to serving our communities as the essential catalyst for educational and economic vitality. Sector strategies create opportunities for communities to join forces to be more competitive in the global market, close the skills gap, and attract and retain a skilled workforce in the region.

Beginning with local manufacturers, Iowa Valley Community College District (IVCCD) adopted and implemented a career pathway system that provides a roadmap to illustrate career opportunities available throughout the area. In addition to area businesses, internal and external stakeholders include economic development organizations, K-12 partners, Iowa Workforce Development, faculty and staff. This committee analyzed labor market information and internal data to determine workforce shortages and skill gaps. As a result, a career pathway map was created to provide insight to high school partners and IVCCD’s student success specialists in advising students into these fields.

This initiative has led to three additional sector partnerships: health occupations, agriculture and Poweshiek Visioning (a multi-sector county approach to this process). The most important aspect of this work is the deployment of a systematic career pathway process that positively impacts our students and local employers. This process provides IVCCD with the information needed to make informed decisions about the educational programs being offered to students and the types of support services needed for overcoming barriers to success.

The level of communication and engagement is a vast improvement over processes that IVCCD has deployed in the past. Another benefit to this process is that stakeholders meet more frequently, ensuring that our students will be more successful in the job market as programs are adapted due to rapid changes in the industry.

In summary, this collaborative effort has inspired creativity, passion and committed partners working toward three common goals:

  1. Increase awareness of all career possibilities within a specific sector.
  2. Evaluate the current educational programs at both the secondary and post-secondary levels by reviewing the curriculum for relevancy in today’s job market.
  3. Develop a long-range plan to continue communication and networking opportunities for employers, educators and workers.

To see a visual representation of the work the groups have done, go to the following link: https://ce.iavalley.edu/workforce-education/.

Jacque Goodman is Vice Chancellor of Iowa Valley Continuing Education.

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