Governor Terry Branstad announced Monday that the 2016 Future Ready Iowa Summit is scheduled for April 19th in Des Moines.
The goal of the summit is talk about how better to close the gap in the skills of Iowans for the jobs that are available.
The president and CEO of the Accumold company in Ankeny, Roger Hagens, joined the governor for the announcement.
“We understand that the future of our business is making sure that we get a lot of smart, hard-working young folks into our company,” Hargens says. Accumold started a program that pays two years of tuition at Des Moines Area Community College for people who join the company. Hargens says the program has worked well and he wants to see the conversation continue on how to train more workers.
“People ask me a lot of times what keeps me up at night worrying about business,” Hargens says. “The number one challenge is making sure we have an available workforce that’s trained correctly , that we can put to work and have a career path for those individuals. Very important.”
He says the need for workers is going to increase even more for his company in the next couple of years.
“We’re 250 employees in Ankeny right now, going to 500 over the next five years. In 2016 alone, we are looking for almost 100 additional employees at our company in Ankeny. It’s very important for our growth,” Hargens says.
Chris Duree the Chancellor at Iowa Valley Community College in Marshalltown, also talked about the summit. Duree says they are looking to tear down the “silos” that business, education and economic development sometimes work in where they don’t work with each other.
“The goal Future Ready Iowa is to certainly to work together, leverage all of those assets for a common cause. And of course — raise the education bar for our students,” Duree says. He says this summit is a great opportunity to work on the cooperation.
“We want our students to be successful, I don’t think anybody can argue about that. And we also want them prepared to go into high-skill, high wage jobs in the state,” Duree says. “So, by targeting all of our resources to that end and all working together, we can accomplish Governor Branstad’s goal by 2025 of ensuring that 70 percent of all Iowans have some level of post-secondary credential.”
Duree says it’s particularly important to focus on STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math skills, in the training. “We have a tremendous number of jobs across the state — high-skilled, high-wage — in the STEM discipline areas,” he says, “we also have a waning interest in our middle schools and high schools and we can work on that. That’s a huge part of the focus of the Future Ready Iowa Initiative.”
The all-day summit is open to the public and will have space for about 1,000. For more information on the summit and information on how to register, go to: futurereadyiowa.gov.