Talent capacity is the number one competitive issue in economic development today. Successful regions are those that can supply the skilled talent necessary to meet the demands of the technology-focused businesses creating the economy’s best, highest-paying jobs. As a result, billions of dollars are being applied to institutions, programs, and services to support the education and training of students of all ages. Through Capital Crossroads, we plan to take the cradle-through-career approach, coordinating education and training programs for all local and regional institutions. We are doing this with our EDGE – Education Drives our Greater Economy – campaign; our goal is to increase the percentage of Central Iowa adults with high-quality degrees and certificates to 75 percent by 2025, as well as Central Iowa students who graduate from high school to 95 percent by 2020.
Because poverty plays a large part in whether or not individuals are able to get a full education and fulfilling career options, we’re also focused on initiatives that aim to reduce the poverty percentage in Central Iowa.
OpportUNITY, our community-driven approach to reducing Central Iowa poverty by 20 percent, encompasses multiple components of the Human Capital through its four focus areas:
Successful implementation of OpportUNITY is critical to ensuring that all Central Iowans available to work are provided the support needed to attain quality employment.
Capital Crossroads 2.0 will focus its Human Capital strategies on the coordinated networks managed by the EDGE campaign and the United Way for all facets of talent development except worker attraction. EDGE has been designed to bring stakeholders – including the United Way – together to identify and address challenges that have arisen as we work to achieve our regional goals.We’ll optimize talent development and capacity through data-driven, iterative, and coordinated processes
When you Seize Des Moines, you are empowered to take charge of your personal and professional journey and shape the direction of the region’s future. With a growing population, world class amenities and national recognition as a great city to advance a career, now is the time to live life in Central Iowa and tell the world how you Seize Des Moines.
State and federal regulations, policies, and performance requirements have significant impacts on education and training processes as well as educators’ abilities to effectively educate local students. The Greater Des Moines Partnership’s EDGE and policy team members work together to ensure that talent development advocacy priorities are incorporated into state and federal legislative agendas and lobbying. Its connections to all relevant Central Iowa education and training entities and partners positions EDGE to be a go-to tool for the identification of policy-related issues, opportunities, and strategies to address and utilize.
In addition to incorporating education and workforce policy priorities into annual state and federal agendas, Central Iowa should be prepared to act quickly to work with elected officials to discuss pending votes. This was the case during a recent legislative session when EDGE built a coalition of partners, including district superintendents and the state’s teachers union, to engage in conversations with elected officials about the school funding bill.
Leverage partners to inform policy priorities
Consider the promotion of education-specific policy issues
Recent talent improvement trends have seen the creation of expansive and well-capitalized partnerships coordinating the development of students from birth through college, careers, and even retirement. In Central Iowa, the EDGE campaign embodies the complete pipeline, but the United Way of Central Iowa managed key initiatives of the cradle to college process. Capital Crossroads is acknowledging the principal role the United Way plays in the birth to college talent development process by incorporating its Targeted Education Strategies into the 2.0 vision plan.
Central Iowa employers have long been engaged in talent development through roles on workforce boards, Central Iowa Works, the Business/Education Alliance (BEA) of Greater Des Moines, the Greater Des Moines Partnership efforts, the United Way of Central Iowa board and other directorships, partnerships with one or more schools and institutions, and now, the EDGE initiative. Even with such sustained and robust interactions between the demand (companies) and supply (institutions) sides of talent development, stakeholders say even more can be done to ensure that the private sector is engaged in, informs, and leverages the work of education and training providers.
Conduct a private sector-led Community Needs Assessment for higher education
Optimize coordination and communication with private sector partners
The early childhood period is critical to the future educational success of all youth. Because the brain is fully developed at age three, our team is working to ensure that children and parents in Central Iowa have access to healthcare and early childhood education. Many families, especially those headed by single parents, are at a disadvantage for early childhood services because of resource limitations or a parent who is in school or working full-time. Beyond care for newborns and infants, studies have found that children who participate in preschool classes or programs enter elementary school better prepared for success.
Support early childhood development through access to preventive health services
Optimize the provision of early childhood and preschool learning
Elementary school years can establish learning patterns that stay with children throughout their educational careers. These often are the years when young children become socialized and begin to grasp the concepts of teamwork and personal responsibility. Support for children and families during elementary school will lay the groundwork for success in middle school and beyond.
Offer services and support to improve student health, attendance, and performance outcomes in early grades
Dedicate capacity to providing quality, engaging out-of-school opportunities for elementary school children
Middle school is the period where many children permanently disengage from academics. If you do not reach a child by middle school, many experts claim, the chances that he or she ever will be successful academically plummet. Many of the same strategies for supporting elementary school students extend into their middle school years. Though the intent of the programs is similar, the strategies to engage and enhance academic performance become more challenging as students approach their teenage years.
Implement programming supportive of middle-school student needs and attitudes
High schools around the country are experimenting with new training models and programs designed to effectively transition their students to college and careers. Thousands of campuses and entire districts are sending their students to local employers, who are dependent on enhanced workforce availability in terms of numbers and skills.
At the most basic level, high school students should be provided the tools necessary to enter college or the workplace primed to succeed. United Way of Central Iowa, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Central Iowa Works, and numerous other partners are collaborating to achieve these goals. Changing demographics in the region are leading to the creation of new and ever-evolving strategies.
Successfully advance students to graduation
Support college and career readiness in Central Iowa high schools
Data showing subpar completion rates for many two- and four-year colleges are highlighting an important realization: It is not just enough to get kids into college; they must be supported with the same wrap-around services as in high school to ensure that they earn their degrees. Though resources to accomplish this goal are always at a premium, many of the same organizations supporting high school completion also are dedicated to working with colleges and universities to best prepare regional graduates for careers with Central Iowa companies.
Leverage higher education institutions and programs to fulfill employer demand
Support the development and sustainability of programs that are required to fill critical workforce needs
A key emerging issue in Central Iowa is the need for mid-level skills in current and prospective employees. A way to combat this ever-growing need is by providing current workers and adults without an educational background with the resources they need to obtain their high school diplomas and college degrees or certificates. Formalizing career “ladders” through coordinated partnerships between providers and institutions would increase the flexibility of regional workers and enable them to be trained for open positions more rapidly. The EDGE campaign coordinates these lifelong learning programs and processes to further support its 75×25 goal.
Multiple programs, providers, and support entities currently act as resources for adults in Central Iowa seeking completion of their high school and/or college degrees. Reaching ambitious attainment goals will require the hard work and network of our many partners and volunteers. Central Iowa’s well-established history of collaboration across public, private, and nonprofit sectors improves the likelihood that the projected number of completions will be accomplished.
Support local adults seeking to complete high school and college degrees
Many Central Iowa residents who could benefit from participation in training programs or are interested in seeking employment are unable to do so due to challenges, including limited transportation access and lack of affordable child care. To maximize degree, certificate, and credential attainment, corresponding efforts to enable adults to access these programs will be necessary.
Develop a comprehensive Affordable Child Care Action Plan
Improve transportation access to jobs and training
As we put much of our focus from the Human Capital team toward improving education opportunities for current and returning students, we must also continue our efforts to retain and attract talent. Because talent attraction is becoming as well funded and aggressive as business attraction for local and regional economic development organizations, competition for top talent is fierce. As a mid-sized, cold-weather region, Central Iowa will pursue our expatriates and individuals with some type of history or connection with the region. Our efforts become more viable as we aim to retain the thousands of college students graduating from higher education institutions in Central Iowa every year.
Central Iowa residents attending regional colleges and universities and students from around the world represent a captive audience for talent retention. While it cannot be assumed that local or non-local graduates will choose to remain in Central Iowa, the chances for retention are much greater when they are presented with a compelling job opportunity. There is already significant activity around connecting students to companies and working to retain graduates and interns in the region. However, stakeholders said that more could be done to differentiate Central Iowa among interns and enhance talent retention incentives.
Leverage tools and relationships to support talent retention
Provide comprehensive internship and intern-support programs
Capitalize and promote a Debt Forgiveness Program to incent graduates to remain in Central Iowa to live and work
Significant resources are invested to promote Central Iowa to the workforce outside our region through multiple media outlets, events, and on-campus visits across the upper Midwest. Public relations programs have led to high-profile earned media placements and awards that improve awareness and external perceptions of Central Iowa. As a result, the region has and will continue to increase its profile for prospective students and workers looking at the Midwest as a landing spot, especially those with a connection to Central Iowa.
Promote Central Iowa through external events and visitation
Enhance targeted outreach and engagement with talent prospects
Work to attract international talent to the region