This week, Gov. Reynolds announced over $16 million in new funding for her signature workforce policy initiative, the Future Ready Iowa Act. With H.F. 758, H.F. 546, and S.F. 608 all signed into law, more new high school graduates and adult learners will have access to great career opportunities and a better life. This includes the new Last-Dollar Scholarship that will help pay tuition for up to two-year postsecondary degrees leading to high-demand jobs.
"Future Ready Iowa is a powerful tool for growing family incomes, meeting employers’ needs, and strengthening our communities," said Gov. Reynolds. "The Future Ready Iowa Act will ensure Iowans have the skills they need to succeed in a world driven by technological disruption - both now and in the future."
"With historically low unemployment, investing in job training, apprenticeships, and cutting-edge careers is the next step for improving the lives of Iowans," said Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development. "This initiative connects Iowans to the skills and education they need to pursue opportunities in good-paying, high-demand jobs."
"Iowa’s education system is working hard to prepare students to succeed in high-demand careers," said Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise. "One important approach is expanding work-based learning opportunities for students to engage in real-world, professional experiences that help them understand how the classroom and workplace connect."
"Future Ready Iowa programs will create new educational opportunities," said Karen Misjak, Executive Director of Iowa College Aid. "That’s good news on all fronts, because research shows us that higher education levels will benefit individual Iowans, their families, their communities, and the state as a whole."
"Iowa has been recognized as both a great place to do business and to find good jobs," said Debi Durham, Director of the Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Finance Authority. "We accomplish these high rankings not only by supporting student efforts to become qualified for higher paying jobs, but also by helping businesses find or train the workforce they need to be successful and grow here in the state."
Much of the $16 million in new funding for FY 20 will go into the following three programs:
The $13 million Last-Dollar Scholarship program will help more Iowans achieve education or training beyond high school leading to high-demand jobs by helping pay tuition for designated programs of study up to two-year degrees. This will create opportunities for good-paying careers that meet employers’ needs for more skilled workers while growing our economy. Both new high school graduates and adults already in the workforce or unemployed, and who want to improve their skills, can participate.
The $1 million Future Ready Iowa Grant program provides stipends to Iowans who left college after earning at least half the credits toward a four-year degree in a high-demand field, and who return to complete a degree. Iowa is experiencing employee shortages in occupations where a four-year degree is required. This program will provide a minimum of $1,000 for tuition support.
The $1.2 million Future Ready Iowa Employer Innovation Fund is a grant opportunity for employers and other partners to collaborate and carry out innovative, creative initiatives to address local workforce issues. A state matching grant is available to qualifying applicants.