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Iowa awards more than $1.25M in grants for work-based learning

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(The Center Square) – Iowa is awarding more than $1.25 million in grants to create new work-based learning programs for Iowa high school students.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday that the Statewide Intermediary Work-Based Learning Grants will fund programs that assists students with one-on-one contact with potential employers and making informed decisions about education and careers after high school.

“Work-based learning programs have long been a priority for the state of Iowa because they help high school students become more engaged in career decision making,” a news release from Reynolds’ office said. “According to Iowa’s Area Education Agencies, the number of students exiting high school without a post-secondary plan continues to grow every year while the number of students who enroll in a post-secondary training program is declining.”

Via the awardees, the grants will support more than 450 technical assistance meetings between schools and employers that aim to create at least 50 internship programs and 47 registered apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship programs, the release said.

Registered apprenticeships are administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship, which sets standards for eligible occupations and collaborates with local entities to determine what apprentices must master to receive a national credential, Iowa Workforce Development said.

Eleven of the 13 grants will go to Iowa community colleges. Programs initiated by the Central Iowa Building and Construction Trades and Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa received the other two grants. Each of the 13 grant awards was $96,666, according to Iowa Workforce Development’s list of award summaries.

“Iowa needs more workers, so we need to do everything possible to show Iowa young people that they can find strong, rewarding careers without having to leave their home state,” Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said. “We welcome any program that can help students engage with the work world, explore their options, and make smart decisions about their futures.”

Community colleges, Iowa educational organizations, nonprofit organizations, local workforce development boards and any other organization capable of providing students sustained interactions with industry or community professionals in a real worksite environment were eligible to apply for the grants, which were awarded based on geographic community college regions.

The award recipients span 13 Iowa community college regions. The state extended the grant applications deadline for the Hawkeye and Southwestern community college regions, where no organization sought funding, to pursue potential applicants. Hawkeye Community College is in Waterloo, and Southwestern Community College is in Creston. The new deadline for applicants in those regions is July 13.

Reynolds signed a bill, SF318, in May to establish an office within Iowa Workforce Development that’s chiefly responsible for the registration and certification of Iowa apprenticeships.

“Iowa continues to be a leader in Registered Apprenticeship, and taking this critical step will make us even more competitive, innovative, and prepared to meet today’s workforce challenges,” Reynolds said in a statement. “The Iowa Office of Apprenticeship will position our state to create even more career pathways for Iowans and expand the opportunities we have helped champion as a state.”

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