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Future Ready Iowa Alliance work begins on weighty goals

Dr. Chris Duree

Dr. Chris Duree, IVCCD Chancellor

Last week Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Director of Iowa Workforce Development Beth Townsend convened the first Future Ready Iowa Alliance membership meeting at the Botanical Gardens in Des Moines. Iowa Valley Community College District Chancellor Dr. Chris Duree is a member of the Alliance and the Executive Committee of the Alliance.

In August at the Career Academy of Pella, Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds and other leaders announced creation of the Future Ready Iowa Alliance by signing Executive Order 88. Executive Order 88 charged the Alliance with developing and recommending a strategic plan by Oct. 31, 2017, to accomplish the Future Ready Iowa goal of 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce having education or training beyond high school by the year 2025. The Alliance will also determine metrics and benchmarks on a timeline to demonstrate progress toward the 70 percent goal. Those key measurements will include:

  • Progress toward overall college and career readiness for all Iowans and reducing the socioeconomic, ethnic and racial achievement gaps in kindergarten through 12th grade and increasing equity in postsecondary enrollment.
  • Progress toward increasing the percent of traditional-age students and adult learners who earn postsecondary degrees, certificates, or other industry-recognized credentials.
  • How well degrees, certificates and other credentials awarded by Iowa postsecondary institutions align with high-demand job needs and job placement rates.

Gov. Branstad also announced that Lt. Gov. Reynolds and Dan Houston (Chairman, President, and CEO of Principal Financial Group) will lead the Future Ready Iowa Alliance as co-chairs, with the Alliance made up of representatives who are committed to strengthening Iowa’s talent development to enhance opportunities for students, adults, employers and communities.

The members have been appointed by the Governor and include representatives from business and industry, labor, pre-K-12 and higher education, workforce development advocates, economic development professionals, students, non-profits, and various other community leaders who will help take steps to close the skills gap and empower Iowans with rewarding careers and Iowa employers with the workforce they need to grow and innovate. Members will serve from 25 Iowa counties, helping to ensure this important dialogue continues in communities across the state.

“I’m pleased that the Future Ready Iowa Alliance includes key stakeholders from across the state and that the group is ready to get to work,” said Branstad. “In a competitive, knowledge-based economy, reaching our Future Ready Iowa goal is critical to assure Iowans have great career opportunities, and employers can hire enough of the skilled workers they need. Iowa needs to build on the work already under way to design a dynamic, 21st century education-to-employment system to help more students and adults prepare and advance, with an emphasis on high-demand jobs.”

Reynolds said, “I am honored to serve as a co-chair of the Future Ready Iowa Alliance, and eager to get to work with passionate Iowans. I want to thank all who have stepped forward and given their time to addressing the critical issue of filling the skills gap. The commitment of this Alliance is essential to accomplishing Iowa’s goal of having 70 percent of the workforce having education or training beyond high school by the year 2025.”

Houston added, “I am honored to be named as a co-chair of this significantly important statewide initiative. To say that a prepared workforce for jobs in Iowa is critical is an understatement. We all need to have a shared understanding of how to connect the classroom to jobs in Iowa and create a coordinated system of education and training to employment that works for everyone. I look forward to working with the Alliance and stakeholders across Iowa on this initiative.”

“I am humbled to be helping Lt. Gov. Reynolds and President Houston lead the effort because the Future Ready Iowa Alliance and initiative are something we firmly believe is necessary in order to develop the workforce we are going to need in the next 10 years,” said Director Townsend.

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