Education adapts to get Iowa more future ready

Ragan Report: Iowa employers have said for years that their biggest chal-lenge is finding enough skilled and qualified workers to fill immediate jobs openings.

The Legislature has re-sponded with a bipartisan plan to make Iowa more Future Ready. HF 2458 won unani-mous approval in the House and Senate, and was signed into law this week.

It aims for 70 percent of Iowa workers to have educa-tion or training beyond high school by 2025. That means another 127,700 Iowans need to earn post-secondary degrees or other credentials in ad-vanced manufacturing, comput-er science, finance, health care and other high-demand fields.

Becoming Future Ready is all about helping Iowans gain momentum on their path to a successful career, and Iowa’s education system is adapting. Two examples include:

• Offering more Career and Technical Education. Students with career and technical train-ing have higher rates of em-ployment and higher earnings than other students, according to a report on community col-lege education outcomes.

• Ensuring students are awarded the credentials they’ve earned. Community college students who transfer to state universities before earning a degree or certificate will have an easier time getting a creden-tial retroactively. Students simply have their university transcripts sent back to their community colleges, which determine if they’ve met re-quirements for degrees or other credentials. This is expected to boost college completion rates and the number of community college credentials awarded.

Now, the Legislature must increase its investment in job training and education at all levels so that the resources are available to meet the needs of Iowans, businesses and com-munities becoming Future Ready.

Sen. Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City) serves Franklin, Butler and Cerro Gordo counties in Senate District 27. She can be reached at 515-281-3371 or 641-424-0874. Email her at aman-da.ragan@legis.iowa.gov.