Kim Reynolds has issued her first executive order as governor, establishing an online “Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-based Learning.”
Businesses will be able to use the website to list any internships or job shadowing opportunities they may have for K-12 students as well as students in college or trade schools.
“The clearinghouse will focus on facilitating distant partnerships across the state of Iowa and this is especially important for rural areas with fewer employers and for schools with significant challenges related to poverty,” Reynolds said during her weekly news conference.
The governor included $250,000 for the clearinghouse project in the budget she proposed to legislators for the coming year, but she’s also prepared to seek private sector money for the project.
“We want to make sure every that child has access to in-depth work-based learning opportunities,” Reynolds said. “To have businesses located in communities all across the state is a great opportunity to do the outreach and provide those examples.”
Fareway is the first business to offer content for the new website. Reynolds Cramer, the CEO of Fareway Food Stores, said his company already has “many of the pieces in place” to post opportunities for students at the online clearinghouse.
“When students drive past Boone and they see a large Fareway warehouse complex, they have no idea what it has to offer for a job or a profession and don’t have any idea of the academic skills required for these opportunities,” Cramer said. “Now the clearinghouse, obviously, is not just for Fareway based learning but for all businesses and companies that they have the ability to share their puzzle-piece of the work-based learning part, while schools…can fulfill the academic pieces of the puzzle.”
Tom Lane, the executive director of the Iowa Area Education Agencies, said the clearinghouse will help connect students in every county to hands-on experiences in the workplace.
“Today we’re introducing a virtual pathway for students to cultivate, develop and align their learning experiences with the real world and real-time needs of the Iowa business community,” Lane said.
The governor said a big goal for the online clearinghouse is to list internships that let students explore their career opportunities within Iowa.
“It’s about building relationships,” Reynolds said. “When we can have our young people really see the great job opportunities that exist within their communities, they’re not so quick to look outside of the state.”
AUDIO of governor’s weekly news conference
Reynolds plans to appoint a group of business leaders and educators to an advisory group that will help launch and expand the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-based Learning.