First Future Ready Iowa Alliance Meeting Brings Together Leaders from Across Iowa to Address Skills Gap

For Immediate Release. 
Date: October 28, 2016
Contact: Courtney Maxwell Greene

DES MOINES -  The initial meeting of the Future Ready Iowa Alliance took place today in Des Moines. Business, community, government, workforce leaders, elected officials and educators are beginning work to create a blueprint for Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds’s Future Ready Iowa initiative.

The goal of Future Ready Iowa is to have 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce have education or training beyond high school by the year 2025 as outlined in this fact sheet. The signing of Executive Order 88 created the Future Ready Iowa Alliance, which is charged with developing and recommending a strategic plan by October 31, 2017 to reach the Future Ready Iowa goal. Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Dan Houston, Chairman, President and CEO of Principal are co-chairs of the Alliance, which is comprised of leaders from 27 Iowa counties. An 18 member Future Ready Iowa Alliance Executive Committee will provide guidance to the co-chairs. Working groups will be established to advance key analysis and recommendations. 

Lt. Governor Reynolds thanked the participants for investing time to put together a comprehensive plan. She said, “I am honored to serve as a co-chair of the Future Ready Iowa Alliance, and eager to get to work with passionate Iowans.  I want to thank all who have stepped forward and given their time to addressing the critical issue of filling the skills gap.  The commitment of this Alliance is essential to accomplishing Iowa’s goal of having 70 percent of the workforce having education or training beyond high school by the year 2025.”

Principal Chairman, President and CEO Dan Houston expressed the need for honest conversation about how to align education and business.  “It’s important that what’s being taught in Iowa’s classrooms translates to meeting the needs of employers,” said Houston. “It will take candid conversation and a commitment from all parties to align those interests into meaningful change, and I’m confident that this group is up to the challenge.” 

Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend led the discussion and said that with millennials (those born between 1979-1999) surpassing baby boomers as the largest cohort of workers, approaches need to be strategic to achieve the goal. “Young people have incredible access to technology,” said Director Townsend. “We need to start earlier and help job seekers chart meaningful paths to employment, and that is not always earning a four year degree. Apprenticeships, certificates and credentials are important parts of the mix that must be considered as we move forward,” Director Townsend stressed.

The next meeting of the Future Ready Iowa Alliance will take place on January 3, 2017 in the Dupont West Room at the Botanical Center, 909 Robert D. Ray Drive in Des Moines.