Speaker Upmeyer’s Weekly Newsletter

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Preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs

There was plenty of debate this week in the House chamber as the next funnel deadline approaches.  Next week brings us the second funnel which means that all Senate bills must be voted out of at least one House committee, and vice versa in the Senate, to remain eligible this session.  In order for House bills to continue being considered, we must get those over to the Senate before next week’s deadline so that they have a chance to vet each bill.

We started the week off with some welcome news that Governor Branstad will extend the tax filing deadline for farmers and small businesses until April 30.  This gives Iowa’s taxpayers more time while the Legislature works to figure out the coupling issue.  We are working closely with the Senate to act on this as quickly as possible.  I’m optimistic that resolution will be reached on this soon.

One thing that Republicans and Democrats tend to agree on is the value of a skilled workforce.  A skilled workforce grows the economy by attracting new businesses and industries which grow new job and career opportunities for Iowans.  As our economy changes and technology advances, workers need to be equipped with the necessary skills for tomorrow’s jobs.  I regularly hear about job openings that can’t be filled because of a lack of employees with the right skills.

Iowa Workforce Development estimates that 56% of all jobs in the state are considered middle-skill, compared to 12% that are low-skill and 32% that are high-skill.  Unfortunately, only a third of Iowa workers have the necessary training to fill those middle-skill jobs.  Middle skill jobs include careers such as law enforcement, skilled trades, or nursing, that provide good wages to raise a family on.

This week, the House unanimously passed House File 2392 to reform Iowa’s Career and Technical Education system.  The bill establishes opportunities for collaboration between high schools, community colleges, and industry to create career pathways for students to be successful in today’s economy.  The bill stems from two years’ worth of work from the Secondary Career and Technical Education Task Force, established in 2013, consisting of individuals ranging from business, industry, skilled trades, school districts, community colleges, labor unions, and economic development entities.  The task force’s goal was to make recommendations on a number of issues including:

  • Reducing skill shortages
  • Enhancing economic growth
  • Ensuring that all students have access to high quality, globally competitive career and technical education programs

You can read the task force’s full report by clicking here.

This piece of legislation will largely benefit high school students by promoting collaboration and providing opportunities to prepare them for either college or the workforce.  Regional planning partnerships, advisory groups made up of educators, community colleges, local businesses, and other community stakeholders, will take the lead to develop strategies to provide these high-quality opportunities.  These partnerships will also ensure that school districts have the tools and resources they need to expose students to a wide variety of career options that could begin during their high school career with on-the-job opportunities in skilled occupations that are in high need of employees.

I’m confident that this piece of legislation will benefit students and young people in Iowa as they graduate and move on to higher education or the workforce.  We should be doing all that we can to ensure that Iowans are given the tools and skills that they need to be competitive in today’s economy.

As always, please keep in touch.  As legislation is moving forward, feel free to send me comments, questions, or feedback that you may have regarding issues before us in the House. I can be reached at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or (515) 281-3521.

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