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Preparing for the needs of tomorrow’s workforce

March 29, 2011
By Chris Duree
In the last two years there have been a series of reports that serve as serious warning bells about the condition of our nation’s current workforce. The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices authored A Sharper Focus on Technical Workers: How to Educate and Train for the Global Economy (2010). The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government published A New Paradigm for Economic Development: How Higher Education Institutions Are Working to Revitalize Their Regional and State Economies (2010). Most recently, ACT published a white paper entitled Breaking New Ground: Building a National Workforce Skills CredentialingSystem (2011). Unquestionably, each of these reports carries a message about the need to improve the American workforce’s level of educational attainment, train and retrain higher percentages of the workforce with technical skills necessary to compete globally, and prepare greater numbers of workers who have the capacity to backfill the anticipated shortfall of highly skilled workers resulting from business growth and retirement of the “baby boomer” generation.

Closer to home, Governor Branstad has an aggressive political agenda to create 200,000 new jobs for Iowans. This begs the question: “So how can I best prepare for one of these jobs?” According to ACT (2011), employers from all industries report “increasing demands for skills in problem solving and critical thinking, communication, teamwork, entrepreneurship, and business.” Furthermore, all levels of the workforce will be seeking those individuals who have a portfolio of skills and credentialing in science, technology, engineering, and math.

ACT (2011) cites a recent report published by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors which reveals that job openings requiring a two-year associate’s degree or vocational credentialing are expected to grow slightly faster than occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree or more. Additionally, The Brookings Institution is noted as reporting that 19 of the 30 occupations with the largest projected job growth over the next decade will not require a four-year degree. Perhaps this is why community colleges in particular are described as “the linchpins of the national workforce credentialing system.” Iowa Valley Community College District is positioning itself to play a critical role in meeting the educational training needs of our local workforce. Our faculty and staff take pride in having the opportunity to touch the lives of those individuals who are starting or restarting their educational and career pathways. Take your next step. Visit our campuses soon and see what we have to offer.

Editor’s Note: Christopher Duree, PhD, is the Chancellor of Iowa Valley Community College District.

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