Getting prepared for tomorrow

Future Ready Iowa is designed to help Iowa prosper

Some politicians worry just about the next election. That’s not Gov. Kim Reynolds style. She’s dedicated to making sure that Iowa’s impressive success story continues far into the future. That’s why the governor has been a strong advocate for an initiative called Future Ready Iowa. It’s been on the drawing boards since 2016 and as a result of the governor’s unrelenting support and actions taken by the Legislature is now about to move ahead boldly.

“Future Ready Iowa is a powerful tool for growing family incomes, meeting employers’ needs and strengthening our communities,” Reynolds said in a statement outlining how this crucial project is unfolding. “The Future Ready Iowa Act will ensure Iowans have the skills they need to succeed in a world driven by technological disruption — both now and in the future.”

Future Ready Iowa seeks to make sure that our state’s workforce is populated with people who have the skills and talents employers require. It works to link Hawkeye State residents with the training and educational opportunities that will position them to secure jobs that pay well. In so doing, it also helps guarantee that employers will find Iowa an attractive place to do business. In assessing where to locate or expand, companies pay close attention to the availability of workers who possess — or can get — the skills they need. Future Ready Iowa is a key part of the state’s strategy to make certain that in that regard our state is highly competitive.

The goal of Future Ready Iowa is to have 70 percent of the state’s workers between ages 25 and 64 possess education or training beyond the high school level by 2025.

Early this month, Reynolds announced that significant funds are about to be deployed in pursuit of this ambitious — but achievable — goal. The governor said more than $16 million in new funding is now in the pipeline to move Future Ready Iowa forward. This means that new graduates from high school as well as adult learners will have greater access to training and educational options that will ready them for improved career opportunities and a more prosperous life.

Much of this enhanced funding will strengthen three superb Future Ready Iowa projects:

• The $13 million Last-Dollar Scholarship program helps Iowans obtain the education or training leading to desirable jobs. It helps pay tuition for certain programs of study up to two-year degrees. Both recent high school graduates and adults already in the workforce or who are unemployed are eligible for this support.

• The $1 million Future Ready Iowa Grant program provides stipends to Iowans who left college after earning at least half the credits toward a four-year degree in a high-demand field. It helps them resume work toward that degree.

• The $1.2 million Future Ready Iowa Employer Innovation Fund is a grant opportunity for employers and others who partner creatively to address local workforce issues.

The Messenger commends Reynolds for guiding Future Ready Iowa from its planning stages to operational readiness. The governor is working hard to make our state’s future is a success story for all Iowans. This program is an innovative and exciting undertaking that will help achieve that goal.

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