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The Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition is off to a strong start in advancing its policy agenda.
Legislative Hearing on Adult Literacy
The Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition lined up witnesses, including a local employer, a student of Des Moines Area Community College, and pathway navigators from Kirkwood Community College, to testify before the State Senate Education Committee’s hearing on adult literacy challenges facing the state.
Suku Radia, president and chief executive of Bankers Trust and vice chair of United Way of Central Iowa spoke of how the 228,000 Iowans who lack basic skills impact the ability of Iowa’s industries to find qualified workers and stay competitive in the global marketplace. The student and pathway navigators described the power of integrated learning programs in helping low-skilled workers move through the education pipeline further and faster to meet industries’ demand for skilled workers. The navigators also stressed the importance of matching career pathways students with case managers to ensure these students get the emotional support and community services (i.e. tutorial assistance or child care) often needed to ensure students can complete their education and training programs.
Legislation to support adult basic education, career pathway programs, pathway navigators, and regional industry sector partnerships
Following the hearing, Senator Herman Quirmbach, chair of the Senate Education Committee, filed an appropriations bill that calls for $5.5 million to support adult basic education, $5 million for Pathways for Academic Career and Employment (PACE) programs and pathway navigators, and $3 million for regional industry sector partnerships to build the skills of Iowans and close the skills gaps. View bill fact sheet.
These investments can put more adults who lack a high school diploma or GED on track to earn these basic credentials and then go on to work toward postsecondary degrees. Studies show Iowa high school and high school equivalency graduates earn an average of $5,347 more per year than non-graduates. What’s more, an appropriation of $5 million in Fiscal Year 2013 for adult basic education and related programs would have a net value of $25,842,030, and a rate of return of 24 percent. That is, the state would get all funding dollars back plus an additional $20,842,030 million, representing a smart investment for Iowa’s workers and industries.
The bill was passed by the Senate Education and the Appropriations Committees and now moves to a full Senate vote.