Iowa’s current unemployment rate of 2.9 percent is at its lowest point in 17 years and continues to remain well below the national average. More Iowans are working than ever before, which is great news.

With our economy at nearly full employment, Iowa employers still have 50,000 job openings. Iowa has a skilled workforce shortage, and businesses are struggling to find workers with the necessary skills to fill high-paying careers.

The Future Ready Iowa Act takes a number of steps to increase and improve the skills of Iowa’s workforce beyond a high school degree. The goal of the Future Ready Act is to ensure Iowans are trained for the jobs of today and tomorrow, with at least 70 percent of Iowa workers equipped with education or training beyond high school by 2025. This legislation was based on unanimous recommendations from the Future Ready Alliance last summer, and passed the Iowa House without opposition, 98-0.

The Future Ready Act creates opportunities for Iowans of all ages and experiences through a number of programs.

• This includes creating a program for small and medium-sized apprenticeship sponsors to help smaller businesses participate in registered apprenticeship programs and develop talent in Iowa.

• It also creates a volunteer mentor program to support future ready programs. Mentors can play a critical role for students who are looking for career advice and networking opportunities. This program will assist students in receiving an employment offer in a high-demand field prior to the end of their academic career.

• Creates a summer youth internship program for students at risk of not graduating from high school or who might face barriers to success and upward mobility in the labor market. These students would be provided with internship opportunities that allow them to experience and prepare for high-demand careers. Students gain work experience and skills necessary to be successful in the workplace.

• A program to promote innovation among Iowa employers to train and attract workers to high-demand jobs and careers.

• An education last-dollar scholarship program that assists Iowans to learn the skills needed to secure a successful career in a high-demand field. This program would play a significant role in helping businesses develop their talent pipeline and hire the skilled workforce they need.

• An education grant program to encourage Iowans to continue education beyond a two-year degree. In order to reach the goal of 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce having education or training beyond high school, it will take more than just new high school graduates. This program is designed to target and provide incentive to Iowans who have completed at least half of the journey towards a degree in a high-demand field, and assist them to finish the journey to secure a successful career.

• A program for high school students to attend college-level classes during the summer. Currently students can only earn dual credit courses during the school year, this initiative would allow them to take dual credit courses related to high demand fields at their local community college during the summer.

The Future Ready Act will help businesses grow and help individual Iowans adapt to the changing economy and find new and better careers. It gives Iowans the opportunity to learn a high-demand skill and then not just get a job to pay the bills, but have a rewarding career. With citizens well-equipped and well-trained for the jobs of today and tomorrow, Iowa will be closer to reaching its full workforce potential.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.

Home phone: 515-382-2352