Helping Iowa’s Families – 2013 Legislative Video

Thank you for your interest in helping Iowans. Please view this video below for a quick overview of Iowa families’ current financial situation and how you can help them. Thank you!

Video not playing? Here’s a transcript:

Almost a quarter of Iowa’s working families do not have an income that can meet their families’ basic needs.  Nor do they have the education, skills and resources to secure better paying jobs in order to provide for these needs.


Lily French: We’ve learned that 23% of Iowa households who are working … and not earning enough to get at that very basic level of survival or financial assistance.


Over 289,000 working-age Iowans do not have a high school diploma or equivalent.


Lily French Community Condition event 2012

Lily French speaks about issues Iowa families face during an October 2012 event. Click on the picture for more on the event.

Lily French: We determined that a single parent with one child working full-time would need to earn $18.08 an hour in order to meet that very basic threshold.  If they were to have a second child, that would actually jump up to $24.88, so almost $25 an hour.


Kirkwood Pathways for Academic Career, Education and Employment (KPACE for short) is the solution.  KPACE targets lower-skilled, low-income adults and helps them access education and training in high-demand industry sectors.


The program integrates basic education and technical training that enables students to acquire stackable credentials needed by employers in the industry.  Each credential earned increases the students’ earning potential, which helps families build financial stability.

Stackable credentials
A pathway includes GED (for those who need it), certificate (which may be one certificate, up to five or six certificates), one-year diploma, and two-year degree. These are stackable credentials. A student could exit training and come back at a later time and build on where he or she left off. This is important as many of them may need to enter the workforce (earning more with an industry-recognized certificate or diploma) to stabilize financially before they complete a two-year degree.


Amber Lewis: The Career Pathways program was right for me because it has given me the steps that I need to begin a better career for myself and my family.


Put your stethoscope about right under there and go ahead and practice taking his blood pressure.  


Amber Lewis

Amber Lewis

Amber Lewis: My name is Amber Lewis, I am 33 years old.  I currently have three kids.  When I was in high school I had two at the time. When I quit high school I didn’t realize I only had four credits left to finish.  The Career Pathways program was great for me because I was able to obtain those four credits that I needed so I could go forward and get my adult diploma.


KPACE Legislative video 2013 (16)One of the perfect things about being here in the simulation lab is the simulators have pulses, they have lung sounds, you can see…


Amber Lewis: One of the benefits to the Career Pathways program is you get a navigator.  The navigator’s purpose is to help you succeed.  My pathway navigator gave me the push that I needed and the support that I needed and the guidance I needed to know where to go, how to get there and what I had to do to get there so they’re very helpful.


So if you want to go ahead, we’ll take our stethoscope.  Let’s listen to his anterior lungs sound so let’s go ahead and put our stethoscopes right up here. 


KPACE Legislative video 2013 (5) amber lewisAmber Lewis: So far in my training I have gotten my CNA license.  I have started my prerequisites at Kirkwood Community College and hopefully this Career Pathways program will lead me to what I want to do ultimately, which is be a labor and delivery nurse.


A pathway navigator provides service and support coordination, helping students in a Career Pathways program connect with academic and social support and services needed to help students successfully complete training.  As stated by Amber, these supports make all the difference to a Career Pathways’ student.


We need your legislative support to help ensure the future today.


  • Invest $5 million for adult basic education and integrated learning programs.
  • Invest $2 million for Pathway Navigators to ensure adult learners complete their training and education programs.
  • Support and build out regional industry sector partnerships.
  • Reinstate $500,000 in funding for the Iowa Education Outcome’s Initiative to measure the impact and degree to which we are closing Iowa skills gap.


Thank you for helping all of our neighbors.


Persistent skills gaps, lack of educational credentials among Iowa’s adult workforce dragging down economic recovery

Des Moines –Middle-skill jobs – those that require more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree – account for 56 percent of jobs in Iowa’s labor market, but only 33 percent of working Iowans have the skills and credentials for these jobs. Therefore, Iowa will need to do more to close this skills gap, and protect the state’s economic recovery, according to a new report released by the newly formed Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition.The report urges Iowa to ramp up public investments in adult basic education, career pathways, and industry sector strategies to meet the demand for skilled workers.

“Our company is poised to expand, but we need a steady pool of ready and qualified workers to ensure our growth and competitiveness, says Scott Burgmeyer, Continuous Improvement Manager for Bridgestone in Des Moines. “The shortage of skilled workers is one of the biggest challenges facing our industry, but industry sector strategies, which ensure that local education and job training programs address our skill needs, can help us tackle this challenge head-on.”

What’s more, the report cites that because two-thirds of Iowa’s workforce in 2025 will have already been working as of 2011, Iowa cannot just rely on youth and young adults to close the skills gap.

“Adults must be part of the solution to address Iowa’s skill shortages,”Elisabeth Buck, Chair of the Central Iowa Works Funding Collaborative, the convening organization of the Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition. “The Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition’s report is a call to action. Adult basic education and career pathways can help more adult workers obtain skilled credentials while they work and support their families. There are over 289,280 working age Iowans who have not completed a high school diploma or obtained a GED; only two percent (5,536) of this target population took the GED test last year. Iowa must reach more of the working age adults who need to participate in adult literacy programs.”

The report, Ensuring All Iowans Have the Skills to Drive Economic Growth and Security, issues the following policy recommendations:

• Appropriate $5 million in state revenue for adult basic education and integrated learning programs, which combine literacy skill development with job training, to help more low-skill adult workers get on a path toward earning postsecondary credentials and having the necessary skills for employment.

• Invest in the use of pathway navigators at a level of $2 million to ensure adult learners enrolled in career pathways programs complete these programs and earn skilled credentials.

• Create capacity within existing postsecondary education and job training funding to develop regional industry sector partnerships around the state.

• Ensure Iowa’s education and workforce development system has the capacity to evaluate the impact of its initiatives and programs on closing skill gaps in key industries and counting numbers of credentials earned by workers through these efforts.

The Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition is a statewide partnership of Iowa’s business, community, education, labor, legislative, and workforce development leaders that serve as an organized voice for skills education and training at the state’s capitol and build more policymaker support for state policies that grow Iowa’s economy by investing in its workforce. The Coalition is led by Central Iowa Works (CIW), a public/private partnership designed to strengthen and expand sectoral workforce development efforts in Central Iowa. CIW is one of thirty regional funding collaborative nationwide affiliated with the National Fund for Workforce solutions that leverages public and private investments to fund proven workforce development practices.

“Iowa’s policymakers have laid important groundworkby enacting legislation tohelp more adults with limited academic skills prepare for college courses and train for jobs in industries with skill shortages, offersSteve Ovel, Associate Vice President, Governmental Relations at Kirkwood Community Collegeand member of the Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition. “But the labor market data tells us that it’s not enough. Iowa needs to use this groundwork as a platform for even more game-changing policies like the recommendations outlined in the Coalition’s report.”

Helene Grossman, former Iowa State Director of Adult Literacy and Central Iowa Works Program Manageradds“Iowa is one of only three states that rely solely on federal funding to support adult basic education programs. As a result, we are only able to serve 3 percent of adults who are eligible for these programs. If state investments are available to leverage federal funding, we can help more adults,who lack a high school diploma, get on the path towards earning skilled credentials.”

Fred Dedrick, Executive Director of National Fund for Workforce Solutions offers,”Expanding support in Iowa for regional industry partnerships is critical in providing workers employer-defined skills that can lead to family sustaining careers. Engaging employers in the design and development of training programs leads to a more responsive workforce development system and facilitates the career advancement of all workers.”

“The report serves as a blueprint by which policymakers can target public investments to help more people build the right skills for the right jobs, and realize economic security, while also furthering Iowa’s economic growth,” affirms Andrea Glispie of Senior Regional Field Director of the National Skills Coalition.

The work of the Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition has been made possible by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and Central Iowa Works, with technical assistance provided by the National Skills Coalition.

Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition Members
AIWP – Association of Iowa Workforce Partners
AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy)
Central Iowa Works
Iowa Association of Business and Industry
Iowa Association of Community College Presidents
Iowa Council of Foundations
National Skills Coalition
United Ways of Iowa
United Way of East Central Iowa
United Way of Central Iowa

IowaPolicySummary Web by uweci

NSC Iowa Report-web by uweci

About the Iowa Skills2Compete Campaign and Central Iowa Works:

The Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition is a statewide partnership of Iowa’s business, community, education, labor, legislative, and workforce leaders that seeks policymaker support for policies that grow Iowa’s economy by investing in its workforce.

Launched in 2008, the Central Iowa Works Funding Collaborative (CIW/FC) is a public/private partnership designed to strengthen and expand sectoral workforce development efforts in Central Iowa. Created as a response to the increasingly wide skills gap that leaves employers unable to meet their workforce needs and dislocated and unskilled workers unable to secure family sustaining employment, the CIW/FC is addressing the needs of these dual customers by aligning and leveraging public and philanthropic funds for strategic investments to support the workforce training system in Central Iowa. CIW convenes workforce partnerships that include employers in Advanced Manufacturing, Health Care, Financial Services, and Energy.

CIW’s Financial Services Workforce Partnership is the only one of its kind in the nation and has become a model for other collaboratives to replicate. In addition, this group received an award for exemplary workforce partnership at this year’s annual conference of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

About National Fund for Workforce Solutions:
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS) is an unprecedented initiative of national and local funders whose goal is the career advancement of low-wage workers using a model of substantial employer engagement to increase the potential for successful outcomes. In 32 communities nationwide, NFWS is implementing innovative approaches to creating career paths for jobseekers and employees, particularly low-wage workers. Each community implements a customized version of the model with local employers in workforce partnerships to analyze the local labor market, identify current and future employer needs, and develop training and career pathway programs that meet those needs. To learn more, visit

About National Skills Coalition:
National Skills Coalition organizes broad-based coalitions seeking to raise the skills of America’s workers across a range of industries. We advocate for public policies that invest in what works, as informed by our members’ real-world expertise. And we communicate these goals to an American public seeking a vision for a strong U.S. economy that allows everyone to be part of its success. For more information, visit

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