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Building a bright future

Future Ready Iowa scholarships invest in our state’s tomorrows

The Future Ready Iowa initiative is an innovative project designed to make sure that our state is well-positioned to thrive far into the future. It seeks to make sure that our state’s workforce is populated with people who have the skills and talents employers require. It links Hawkeye State residents with the training and educational opportunities that will enable them to secure jobs that pay well. In so doing, it also gives employers powerful reasons to find Iowa an attractive place to do business. It makes it more likely that new businesses will invest in our state and gives employers already here an incentive to stay and, hopefully, expand.

A major component of Future Ready Iowa is the Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship Program. This crucial undertaking 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. According to Gov. Kim Reynolds, it focuses on meeting business and industry workforce needs in four key areas: (1) health care and biosciences; (2) information technology; (3) advanced manufacturing production, installation and maintenance; and (4) construction and engineering.

The governor has just announced that an impressive 5,800 Iowa students have received scholarships under this program for the fall 2019 semester. These Iowans attend all 15 Iowa community colleges as well as the Mercy College of Health Sciences and St. Luke’s College, according to an overview provided by the governor’s office. The individual scholarship amounts vary, but for this semester the average award for a student was $1,132.

“When Iowans find good-paying jobs in cutting-edge careers, it can be life-changing for them and their families,” Reynolds said. “The Last-Dollar Scholarship is connecting more Iowans to rewarding career opportunities, which will help employers hire the skilled workers they need to grow.”

This key undertaking is getting more well-qualified workers ready to meet employer requirements in a very tight job market. Helping employers address the need for workers with the right training and skills is contributing positively to the long-term expansion of our state’s economy.

“This scholarship is a critical tool for growing incomes, closing the skills gap and helping meet the needs of a competitive economy,” Reynolds said.

The Messenger strongly agrees. We commend the governor for being a strong champion of Future Ready Iowa and this scholarship program. Reynolds made clear in her statement about the scholarships awarded this fall that the project has received enthusiastic support from an array of state agencies and Iowa colleges. It is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when a spirit of cooperation and partnership is at the heart of a worthy undertaking.