Education level often determines an adult’s ability to move into a sustainable career pathway, obtain a job that pays a living wage, and progress toward long-term financial stability. An adult’s earnings can increase by more than $700,000 over a lifetime by attaining at least a high school equivalency diploma28 and even more with the addition of some postsecondary training.

Only 32 percent of working Iowans have the skills and credentials needed to work in the middle-skill positions that make up 55 percent of Iowa’s jobs.

Source: Advocacy Agenda Building on Smart Investments in Iowa’s Workforce and Industries, 2018

Increasing opportunities for adults to gain fundamental employment-ready skills and industry-recognized credentials can expand the skilled workforce central Iowa employers need and, ultimately, grow our economy. Our community must build an infrastructure so that more adults can access and receive supportive services and navigate their way to meaningful employment.



When people are asked about their hopes for the future, they often answer, “good jobs for myself and my children.” This work group will focus on the intersection and gaps between employer needs and job seekers’ skills and experiences. It’s important that employers don’t have unfilled jobs and anyone who wants a job can have one that builds on the strength of their skills and offers purpose. Working across sectors, we’ll collaborate to help every central Iowan reach their potential.



1. Support an initiative to increase the number of central Iowans working towards their high school equivalency diploma.

·        Launched the Bridges to Success initiative with an aggressive goal to help 10,000 central Iowans achieve a high school equivalency diploma by 2020 by designing and implementing an evidence-based diploma preparation program.

·        Awarded more than 1,500 high school equivalency diplomas in two years.

2. Advocate for legislation to expand alternative pathways.

·        Advocated successfully for the passage of HF473, expanding alternative pathways for Iowans to achieve high school equivalency diplomas.

3. Seek grant to support training initiatives in central Iowa.

·        Secured $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to launch Central Iowa HealthWorks, to train more than 400 central Iowans in high-demand health care careers over the next four years.

4. Increase the number of central Iowans pursuing postsecondary education.

·        Increased the number of individuals pursuing postsecondary education:

·        2,293 more people attained some college and/or associate degree in one year.

·        2,739 more people attained a bachelor’s degree or higher in one year.




1. Increase the percentage of central Iowa adults who have high-quality degrees, certificates, and other credentials to 75% by 2025, with educational outcomes aligning to workforce needs (Capital Crossroads – Human Capital/EDGE Plan).

·        Increase the number of adults who complete a high school equivalency diploma.

·        Promote awareness of the need to match employee skills and employer needs by not requiring college degrees for jobs that don’t require college-level skills.

·        Increase the number of individuals who complete industry-recognized certifications in technology-related careers.

2. Address advocacy issues to improve opportunities for adults to get the education and training needed for employment and career pathways.

·        Support the Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition recommendations.

·        Repealed automatic driver’s license suspension for non-driving drug offenders.

·        Advance state engagement with the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment & Training program (SNAP E&T).


OpportUNITY Work Groups


New Iowans


Food Insecurity

Child Care Cliff Effect


Adult Education and Employment