Iowa currently faces a skills gap. That’s because there are not enough workers possessing the needed skills for the jobs available. Right now, 55% of jobs available in Iowa are middle skill jobs. These jobs require more than a high school diploma but not a four-year degree; they require an associate’s degree, a training certificate, or an apprenticeship. However, only 32% of our workforce has this skill set.
Bi-partisan legislation approved this week seeks to remedy this problem. The Future Ready Iowa legislation brings forward the recommendations of the Future Ready Alliance with the goal of having 70% of Iowa’s workforce with education or training beyond high school by the year 2025.
The legislation creates a new apprenticeship program under the Economic Development Authority designed to incentivize small and medium sized apprenticeship programs to create new or more apprenticeships. The bill also creates a volunteer mentor program; a summer youth intern pilot program for at-risk youth; an Iowa Employer Innovation Program focused on training for high demand jobs; and a Future Ready Iowa Skilled Workforce Grant Program for state universities or accredited private colleges. Additionally, the legislation directs the Department of Workforce Development and area community colleges to identify and create a list of high demand jobs for these programs.
While the bill is a good first step, many lawmakers are concerned there will be no money to implement the bill. HF 2458 now moves on to the Senate for further consideration.