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Future Ready Iowa Initiative

Gov. Reynolds discusses plan to increase workforce education

By Christina Uptain
On October 31, 2017

Gov. Kim Reynolds, left, and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, right, address questions during a panel discussion at The Hotel at Kirkwood on Oct. 20. Photo by Jeff Sigmund.

Key Iowa legislators and local business leaders met on Oct. 20 in the conference center at The Hotel at Kirkwood for a panel-style discussion regarding the Future Ready Iowa Initiative.

Students, faculty and staff were invited to observe this session, which was the third of four stops in Iowa to highlight the key messages of the initiative.

After receiving a National Governors Association Grant and upon the signing of Executive Order 88 in August 2016, the Future Ready Iowa Alliance was formed and is responsible for developing and recommending a plan by Oct. 31, 2017, to reach the main vision of the initiative, which is having 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce with education or training beyond high school by the year 2025.

A mediator presented a series of questions then the round table discussion was opened for local business leaders and owners to address the panel. The session began with an inquiry into why the Future Ready Iowa Initiative was launched and what it means to Iowans.

“When meeting with business and industry in all 99 counties in Iowa, visit after visit after visit they are optimistic about their company and growth but the only barrier they faced right now was finding a workforce to help them innovate and grow,” said Reynolds.

She continued, “At the same time, we have unemployed and underemployed Iowans and are seeing a disconnect with the opportunities that exist within every part of the state in really helping Iowans to get the skills they need to have a great career and to have that opportunity here in Iowa.”

Reynolds added, “We formed the Future Ready Iowa Alliance and met for over a year, doing thoughtful research... this is a road map so what we are doing right now is a listening tour.”

The panel consisted of Governor Kim Reynolds (Future Ready Iowa co-chair) and Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, along with Iowa and Corridor business leaders Dan Houston (CEO, President and Chairman of the Principal Financial Group and Future Ready Iowa co-chair), Steve Schulz (Director of Global Talent with Rockwell Collins), Anne Parmley (managing director of national assessment services and Iowa general manager at Pearson) and Pankaj Monga (President and CEO of Channel Fusion).

Several other local business leaders were also in attendance to observe and funnel questions to the panel.

Over the approximate one-hour session, numerous questions were answered and several topics were discussed with all six members of the panel including skills gaps, regional partnership goals, benchmarks and legislation that is needed to achieve the vision of the Future Iowa Ready Initiative.

Further information and several resources can be found on the website www.futurereadyiowa. gov including updates about the initiative plus career coaching and exploration tools. 

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