‘Fast-Track Iowa’s Future’ Conference a success

Fast-Track Iowa's Future Conference is packed.
Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend speaks to a full house of school-business partnerships in the making about the importance of work-based learning opportunities in Iowa.

More than 550 community leaders from all sectors of Iowa assembled at the Events Center in Des Moines on June 21 to learn, develop and grow localized school-business partnerships with the goal of inspiring and preparing students for STEM careers. Encouraged to attend in teams, leaders in workforce and economic development, business and industry, higher education and K-12, along with attendees representing informal, non-profit, youth and government sectors, connected to experience a day full of rallying keynote speakers and in-depth presentations on the best-known, emergent educational innovations currently transforming and unifying communities around work-based learning.

Joined by Governor Kim Reynolds, STEM Council co-chair, and Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend kicked off the event. Michael Bartlett, policy analyst with the National Governors Association, introduced David Etzwiler, CEO of the Siemens Foundation, both noting Iowa’s leadership in setting the stage nationally for community collaboration. Director Townsend emceed the conference, as well as facilitated a panel that framed the conversation for the day on sharing replicable best practices. During lunch, Alliant Energy Chairman, President and CEO Patricia Kampling shared her personal experience with STEM and why she is dedicating her company to the Iowa STEM mission.

Two in-depth breakout sessions featuring 10 topics equipped attendees with resources and information about labor laws and legal issues, internships and externships, recruiting STEM talent, convening community partners and more. A Speed Showcase after lunch spread 18 bite-sized presentations, specifically about a singular program or opportunity, across the ballroom for attendees.  

Contributing to the Future Ready Iowa vision to achieve 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce with some type of post-secondary education or training by 2025, the STEM Council led planning alongside instrumental partners, including the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Alliant Energy, Rockwell Collins, the U.S. Department of Labor, Northeast Iowa Community College and others. Funded in part through a grant from the National Governors Association, the event was also supported by Alliant Energy, AT&T, Cognizant, Elevate Iowa, ITC Midwest, Iowa Biotech Association, Iowa Workforce Development and Rockwell Collins.

If you missed the event, videos from the keynote speakers, as well as the breakout sessions, can be found at www.IowaSTEM.gov/Archive.

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