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Building for a better tomorrow

Helping Iowans prepare for a changing workplace is crucial

Gov. Kim Reynolds is determined to get our state prepared for the rapidly changing workplace challenges of the 21st century. The governor’s strong commitment to the Future Ready Iowa initiative is part of her game plan for accomplishing that important goal.

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 Iowans with the training and educational opportunities that will position them to secure jobs that pay well.

Making sure that the state’s schools and colleges are collaborating with employers to facilitate development of educational opportunities in sync with present and future needs is a key focus.

It’s not just about the classroom, however. Not all learning opportunities take place in traditional institutional settings. There are also many employers who offer students the chance learn through real-world professional experiences.

That’s why the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning was created. According to information provided by the governor’s office, it is designed connect students with learning options available through employers.

“Work-based learning fits hand in glove with Iowa’s definition of college and career readiness, which emphasizes not only the content knowledge that students need for success, but also the skills to navigate transitions through and beyond school as learners and leaders,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said, in a statement just issued concerning this project.

His department runs the clearinghouse in partnership with our state’s area education agencies, Iowa Workforce Development, the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. A state appropriation in the amount of $300,000 provides the funding.

According to the DOE, more than 100 work-based learning projects are already available statewide. More are being developed. It is anticipated that these undertakings will help young people not only acquire relevant skills, but also gain interests that could lead to careers they might not otherwise have considered. Being exposed to actual work environments helps students appreciate the relationship between what they are taught in the classroom and what they will need to know to succeed in present and future workplaces.

“By exploring potential interests early on, students are better positioned to make informed decisions about their career path,” Reynolds said in a statement calling attention to the clearinghouse. “Today, we have jobs looking for people and high-quality work-based learning can connect students to exciting careers while helping employers hire the talent they need to continue growing our economy and their business.”

The Messenger agrees. We commend Reynolds for her strong support for the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning and the entire Future Ready Iowa initiative. (More information is available at https://clearinghouse.futurereadyiowa.gov/) She is dedicated to making our state’s future a success story for all Iowans. The clearinghouse is just one of the innovative projects underway that will further that goal.