Governor Kim Reynolds says next year she’ll ask legislators to set aside at least five-million dollars for new scholarships and grants to Iowans seeking a college degree or professional training beyond high school.
These proposed “Last Dollar Scholarships” are among the recommendations from the 55-member “Future Ready” task force. Reynolds asked the group to address the state’s skilled worker shortage.
“This is the number one priority of our administration and you know it’s necessary,” Reynolds says. “It’s critical. As we travel the state and we talk about the need for a skilled workforce, that’s how we’re going to continue to grow the economy and provide opportunities for Iowans.”
Reynolds told reporters at her weekly news conference she is not ready to spell out the full details, but indicated she may redirect spending or redesign existing state programs to find more money for this initiative. The governor’s goal is to have at least 70 percent of the Iowa workforce gain qualifications beyond a high school diploma by the year 2025.
Dan Houston, the CEO of Principal Financial, served as co-chair of the governor’s Future Ready task force. He said the plan will “march” Iowa down a path to a more skilled statewide workforce.
“Iowa doesn’t have a choice,” Houston said during the governor’s news conference. “We’ve got to get 127,000 people prepared to do higher-skilled jobs in this state if it is desirable for us to be a state-of-choice for establishing businesses.”
The task force is calling on Iowa businesses to offer more internships and mentoring programs. The state’s K-12 schools are being encouraged to collaborate with businesses to give high school students more work-based experience.