Challenges & Opportunities

The number one challenge within our local and regional economy is finding qualified and skilled talent. According to one Iowa state agency estimate, in 2024 there will be 1.9 million jobs in Iowa and just 1.2 million workers age 18-64 to fill them.

Consider these facts:

  • In 1960, 20% of jobs in the United States required a four-year degree. By the year 2020 it is estimated that 33% of jobs will require a four-year degree.
  • In 1960, 60% of US jobs were considered unskilled positions. By the year 2020 these jobs will account for only 7% of total jobs in our country.
  • In 1960, 20% of jobs in the United States required specialized training that involved 1-2 years of additional training beyond high school. By the year 2020 it is estimated that 60% of all US jobs will require this type of specialized training

According to a McKinsey study, 72% of education institutions believed recent graduates were ready for work. Only 42% of employers agreed.

In 1950, the national graduation rate was 59%. By 2010, this rate increased to 80%. But did you know that students who earn some type of technical certification during high school now graduate at a rate of 97%?

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The required skills needed in our workforce can be summed up by the formula 1:2:7. For every one job requiring a masters degree or higher, two Bachelor degree jobs will be available and seven Associate degree or Certificate jobs will be available.

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The goals of educational programming must align with business community needs. In the same way, the business community must be actively engaged in owning a solution to their workforce challenges. Existing project based learning experiences provide priceless opportunities for students to acquire workplace learning experiences, engage students in real world projects, and provide authentic interactions that benefit both the personal and professional development of the student.

Community Promise is a complementary student pathway that aligns new CTE strategies with real long term career opportunities. This approach will accelerate traditional project based learning experiences by cultivating immediate employment opportunities for students who we equip to be immediately career ready after high school. We are committed to advancing business engagement opportunities from experience to authentic career pursuit.


Career & Technical Education & Alignment:

In 2016, the State of Iowa adopted House File 2392, into law. The CTE redesign initiative, which focuses on middle and high school students, also aligns with the Future Ready Iowa program launched by Gov. Branstad. This legislation will help achieve the Future Ready Iowa goal that 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce have education and training beyond high school by 2025.

Goals of the CTE redesign include:

  1. Improve access to high-quality CTE through a statewide system of regional planning partnerships to assist school districts in providing an effective, efficient, and economical means of delivering programs.
  2. Encourage alignment of secondary CTE offerings to in-demand occupations to meet the needs of employers.
  3. Reform career and academic planning and CTE programming to encourage students to explore opportunities aligned to their interests through holistic career guidance, exploratory CTE coursework, and work-based learning opportunities.

Within our community high schools, curriculum and training opportunities already exist around the following career clusters that support nearly 80 career pathways. These career clusters align with the state’s CTE focus and include: