“Today is the first step to allow Iowa to begin to reach its full workforce potential.” Representative Peter Cownie, a Republican from West Des Moines, said. “Iowa has a good problem. We have low unemployment in this state…but we also have a need for skilled workers. We have a need for more jobs to be filled. We hear this from all corners of the state and we need to help solve this problem.”
The bill calls for a new a program in the Iowa Economic Development Authority to help finance apprenticeships in small and medium-sized Iowa companies. Summer youth internship programs for “at-risk” students and mentoring for college students are included as well. While House Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the bill, they raised concerns the money to finance these projects might not follow.
“If we’re not able to find funding to back up the policy, this is something that is really just lip service,” Representative Chris Hall, a Democrat from Sioux City, said. “I think we all need to put effort into make sure that the things we’re identifying as priorities for the legislature are also funded by the legislature.”
Governor Kim Reynolds has made the so-called “Future Ready” ideas in this bill a priority and she’s recommended an additional $18 million in state funding for the projects. The package includes state scholarships and grants for students seeking degrees in “high demand” subjects at community colleges and universities.