Reinforcing a Strong Pipeline for Iowa’s Future

February 9, 2018 | A shared identity: Eastern Iowa unites to create Creative Corridor Alex Monaghan, Elevate Advanced Manufacturing,

Coming out of the “Great Recession” in 2012, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) and the 15 community colleges of Iowa collaborated in an unprecedented way. The partnership is currently reaping benefits for all Iowans, given the unemployment rate is just 2.9 percent, and has created a solid foundation for new efforts to ensure Iowa’s workforce is ready for the future. Together, these organizations created Elevate Advanced Manufacturing to promote career pathways in advanced manufacturing throughout the state.

ABI continues to lead this effort with the help of the community colleges. All 15 community colleges contribute $10,000 annually ($150,000 total from the Iowa Skilled Worker and Job Creation Fund), which is matched by ABI business members to sustain continued outreach to students through curriculum distribution, regional specific programming and other creative approaches to teaching students about careers in Iowa. As a result of these efforts, enrollments and training in key manufacturing career pathways have increased an average of 14 percent and helped fill strategic positions with Iowa’s manufacturers.

Recently, the ABI board reconfirmed its successful partnership with the Iowa community colleges when it voted in favor of the Work-based Opportunity Regional Referral Consortium (WORRC) at its Jan. 10 board meeting. Building on the system that the partnership has created with Elevate Advanced Manufacturing, together the organizations will work to introduce work-based learning opportunities to students and future employees to careers in high-demand areas, reduce student debt, accelerate learning and reinforce the pipeline of talent for Iowa’s employers.

This initiative strives to work in collaboration with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ “Future Ready Iowa” recommendations and support work-based learning opportunities. A council of ABI members and college representatives will be created to ensure collaboration and coordination, as well as the development of additional initiatives to support Iowa’s future.