Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has signed legislation designed to address worker shortages in Iowa. The new state law will guide changes in career and technical programs for Iowa students in the seventh through 12th grades. The goal is to make those programs align better with community college courses and, ultimately, ensure students are gaining skills that will help them get a job. Representative Mary Ann Hanusa, of Council Bluffs says regional partnerships will be formed, involving educators and other adults in the community.
“To bring together school districts and community colleges and the business and agricultural community so that they can help develop a sort of a holistic career opportunities and career pathway for our students,” Hanusa says, “to expose them to new careers and new opportunities with which they may not now be familiar.” The new law requires each public and private school in Iowa to develop a unique “career and academic plan” for each eighth grader. Senator Brian Schoenjahn, of Arlington, says the goal is to make “high quality” technical education available at the high school level.
“We have the Regional Academy for Math and Science at Oelwein. We have the Career and Technical Education (Academy) at Maquoketa — tremendously successful partnerships between businesses, community colleges and high schools that are guiding our students,” Schoenjahn says. “Unfortunately, these great opportunities don’t exist all over our state.” Representative Patti Ruff of McGregor says the law will help students gain the skills for jobs that may not require a four-year or even a two-year college degree.
“But through apprenticeships and other job shadowing and internship options, they will be able to find that path to a successful career and, thus, a successful life,” Ruff says. The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously earlier this spring. Governor Branstad signed the bill into law this morning (Thursday) during a ceremony at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo.