The end of summer has arrived and children across Iowa are heading back to school to begin the new year. This is the first year that all of my children are in school, with my youngest now in pre-school. I am excited to watch them continue to learn and develop new skills.
The new school year also brings new opportunities for students preparing to graduate. Earlier this year, House File 2392 was signed into law, enhancing and streamlining Iowa’s career and technical education (CTE) programs. These modernizations will be helpful to all students preparing for careers and continuing education with a high emphasis on work-based training.
This bipartisan bill was the result of a two-year task force made up of educators, business and industry representatives, legislators, and other stakeholders. In an earlier bill passed by the legislature in 2013, the task force was created and assigned to review and recommend changes to secondary career and technical education programming. The bill required that this group develop and recommend specific changes in our system to ensure all students have access to high-quality, globally competitive programs.
The group’s recommendations included two major changes to our CTE system. First, students will begin creating individual career and academic goals in eighth grade to help guide them through junior and senior high school. This early planning will help students to prepare for graduation by identifying needed coursework and preparing them for further career guidance. Second, new regional partnerships will be created utilizing community colleges and local businesses. These regional partnerships are a key piece of this legislation as they will create and provide opportunities for students to access work-based learning to explore career options and gain hands-on experience.
These changes will help open new doors to students while also meeting the 21st century needs of employers across the state. As we continue to innovate in business and industry, there is high demand in both urban and rural parts of the state for middle and high-skilled workers. The modernizations in this bill will help provide high-skill and high-paying careers to graduates, meet the current and future needs of employers, and contribute to the continued growth of our state’s economy.