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Sector partnerships are increasingly recognized as an effective method for aligning education, economic, and workforce development systems to address industry-identified labor market needs. The federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which replaces the Workforce Investment Act, shifts from an “employment first” strategy to one that emphasizes credential attainment through the use of sector partnerships and career pathways.
Sector partnerships are comprised of industries with shared needs, as well as various education, workforce, economic, and community organizations in supportive roles. These partnerships develop and continuously evaluate goals, policies, and service-delivery strategies to meet the needs of employers in a given sector. In doing so, they operate within labor market regions and are not confined to municipal, county, educational, or state boundaries. Effective sector partnerships are industry-driven, meaning industries identify needs and assume the lead role in developing strategies which address their identified needs.
Career pathways are one strategy utilized by sector partnerships to address industry-identified labor market needs. Career pathways organize education and training into a coherent, stackable sequence aligned within specific occupations within a given industry. In that way, career pathways support an individual in developing the personal, technical, and employability skills required for advancement within an industry and transitioning from training and education into the workforce. Colleges, primary and secondary schools, economic development agencies, workforce service providers, employers, labor groups, and social service providers all play a vital role in the successful development of career pathways.
Sector Partnership Leadership Council
As called for in Iowa’s Unified State Plan, the Sector Partnership Leadership Council (SPLC) will assume the lead role in the development, implementation, and achievement of policies and objectives related to sector partnerships and career pathways across the state. The SPLC will serve in formal advisory role to the Iowa Workforce Development State Board of Directors on matters related to sector partnerships and career pathways. The SPLC membership emphasizes business, industry, and employer representation so that the council is truly industry led and oriented.
Community of Practice and Networking Initiatives
Sector Partnerships in Iowa - Inventory and Mapping Report
An exploratory survey was conducted in December 2015 to begin the inventory and mapping process of sector partnerships in Iowa, and the findings were published in the Sector Partnership & Career Pathway Advisory Council - Overview and Survey Findings report. At that time, an estimated 40 sector partnership groups were operating at various levels of maturity, serving over 85 counties across a wide range of industries in Iowa.
An initiative to expand upon that baseline work and provide a much more accurate and robust view of the current sector partnership landscape in Iowa was completed in July 2017 through a partnership between Iowa Central Community College, Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa Department of Education, and the University of Northern Iowa’s researchiQ (a collaboration between Strategic Marketing Services and Institute for Decision Making). Through quantitative and qualitative primary research, along with supplementary secondary market research, the updated Inventory of Sector Partnerships in Iowa - July 2017 report has been released, including the updated contact information for approximately 60 sector partnerships across the state, now serving all of Iowa’s 99 counties.
In partnership with the Future Ready Iowa initiative and support partners, an interactive statewide map has also been developed and will continue to be enhanced in the Sector Partnership section of the Future Ready Iowa portal. In addition to being an educating and informing resource about sector partnership work across the state, the intention of this project is to also assist in connecting these partnership groups with one another to build relationships and achieve greater efficiencies through increased collaboration and sharing of information.
Iowa Sector Connect - Community of Practice
Initiatives are being developed and implemented to further connect new and existing sector partnership teams to network, share best practices, and offer support to one another so that all continue to grow and thrive. Sector-specific group facilitator conference calls are currently being conducted each month, per the 2019/2020 schedule below. Guest speakers, industry representatives, and subject matter experts are also often invited to join to cover various topics. Click on the below industries to view notes from previous calls and to learn more about the effective and innovative sector strategies being implemented across the state.
2019 – 02/14, 04/11, 06/13, 08/08, 10/10, 12/12
2020 – 02/13, 04/09, 06/11, 08/13, 10/08, 12/10
Agriculture, Construction, and Energy
2019 – 01/08, 03/12, 05/14, 07/09, 09/10, 11/12
2020 – 01/14, 03/10, 05/12, 07/14, 09/08, 11/10
Business and Financial Services
2019 – 02/13, 04/10, 06/12, 08/14, 10/09, 12/11
2020 – 02/12, 04/08, 06/10, 08/12, 10/14, 12/09
2019 – 01/09, 03/13, 05/08, 07/10, 09/11, 11/13
2020 – 01/08, 03/11, 05/13, 07/08, 09/09, 11/11
2019 – 02/12, 04/09, 06/11, 08/13, 10/08, 12/10
2020 – 02/11, 04/14, 06/09, 08/11, 10/13, 12/08
Transportation and Logistics
2019 – 01/10, 03/14, 05/09, 07/11, 09/12, 11/14
2020 – 01/09, 03/12, 05/14, 07/09, 09/10, 11/12
Additional tools and strategies are being explored to provide further communication, file sharing, and collaboration opportunities for sector partnership teams. Contact Joe Collins if interested in joining for these events or to provide feedback to be considered for future initiatives.
Sectors of Opportunity - Iowa Career Pathway Mapping Projects
The focus of the Future Ready Iowa initiative is the placement of more Iowans into high-demand, well-paying careers in industries such as Information Technology (IT), Energy, Advanced Manufacturing, and Health Care. General mystique and confusion are often associated with careers in these fields, which leads to inaccurate stereotypes, the facilitation of incorrect information, and ultimately shortages in locally qualified, skilled labor. Under the guidance of the SPLC and in support of the Future Ready Iowa Initiative, the Iowa Department of Education is partnering with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), Iowa Central Community College (ICCC), and additional national and local consultants, industry associations, employers, and strategic partners to conduct exploratory research and develop career pathway materials for these exciting career sectors in Iowa. These collaborative efforts will help keep Iowa’s employers strong, growing, and competitive.
In 2017, the Department partnered with the Technology Association of Iowa (TAI), CAEL, and ICCC to provide basic, visually appealing career pathway documentation covering some of Iowa’s growing IT career opportunities. These materials were updated and expanded in 2020 to further showcase new and exciting tech careers across a broader range of industries in Iowa.
This project, in support of the Future Ready Iowa initiative, would not be possible without the continued support of TAI and a new collaboration with the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council.
A brief employer survey was launched in February, a series of five virtual employer roundtables were held in April, and a closing employer survey was offered in May to gather direct input from the many different types of industries and employers with a growing need for workers with advanced skills in computer science, information technology, and related products or services in Iowa.
Energy and Utilities
The statewide energy sector partnership the Iowa Energy Workforce Consortium (IEWC) partnered with the IDOE, CAEL, and ICCC to provide basic, visually appealing career pathway documentation similar to those provided through the IT partnership work with TAI. These newly developed materials are meant to start the conversation about the breadth of potential careers within the Energy and Utilities industry.
Iowa’s energy industry forms the backbone of communities across the state. Every time a light or stove is turned on, a connection is being made to an exciting field that employs tens of thousands of Iowans. Energy companies in electric, natural gas, oil, and renewable energy technologies represent a range of growth careers for everyone. The Opportunities in Energy: Iowa document provides energy career pathways information that showcases career opportunities for a range of occupation families and clear pathways for how to advance within or towards different high-demand and well-paying careers throughout Iowa. Links to careers on the Future Ready Iowa portal and other interactive features are also currently being developed to further enhance this tool.
In support of the Future Ready Iowa Initiative, the Iowa Department of Education partnered with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) and Elevate Advanced Manufacturing to develop career awareness and pathway materials that clearly show how students and job seekers of all ages can enter and advance through a wide range of exciting careers in the Advanced Manufacturing industry in Iowa.
Through a series of online surveys and in-person focus groups conducted around the state (Quad Cities, Waterloo, Ankeny, and Sioux City), over 300 manufacturers provided critical direct feedback into the development of these materials. Special attention was paid to incorporating career interest and personality types to these materials since it is a focus in most education systems and workforce development centers in Iowa. Links have been provided throughout the document to additional resources and the Future Ready Iowa Career Coach site for readers to learn more about these exciting opportunities in their local communities. One thing is clear from our findings: This isn’t your grandparents’ manufacturing industry!
The IDOE partnered with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Hospital Association, and Iowa Health Care Association to support the Future Ready Iowa Initiative by developing career awareness and pathways materials for the critical Health Sciences industry in Iowa.
Through a series of online surveys and in-person employer focus groups conducted around the state (Cedar Rapids, Mason City, Des Moines, and Sioux City), over 350 health care providers and employers provided direct feedback in the development of these materials. Special care was taken to include providers and employers from a wide range of the robust and expanding health sciences industry, such as hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing facilities, hospice, community health, research labs, and in-home service providers.
Links have been provided throughout the document to additional resources and the Future Ready Iowa Career Coach site for readers to learn more about these exciting opportunities in their local communities. Readers will likely be surprised to learn the seemingly endless opportunities to work in this field and make a difference in their community in their own unique way!
Building Trades (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering - ACE)
In support of the Future Ready Iowa Initiative, the Iowa Department of Education partnered with the Iowa Laborer’s Education and Training Trust Fund, Iowa State Building & Construction Trades Council, National Association of Women in Construction, and Home Builders Association of Iowa to develop promotional materials to highlight a wide range of exciting and fulfilling careers in the building trades from initial planning and design to the final sale and maintenance. There is a job for everyone in the building trades in Iowa!
Through a series of online surveys and in-person employer focus groups conducted around the state (Storm Lake, Grimes, Waterloo, Dubuque, and Iowa City), a wide range of building trades professionals, employers, educators, and support partners provided direct feedback in the development of these materials.
Links to additional resources have been provided throughout the document and the Future Ready Iowa Career Coach site for readers to learn more about these exciting opportunities in their local communities. Readers will likely be surprised to learn the many different ways they can work in the building trades in Iowa to help build, support, and leave a lasting impact on their communities!
Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (TDL)
In support of the Future Ready Iowa Initiative, the Iowa Department of Education partnered with the Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Motor Truck Association, APICS-Central Iowa, and Iowa Wholesale Beer Distributors Association to develop promotional materials to highlight a wide range of exciting and fulfilling careers offered in the Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics (TDL) industry in Iowa.
Employer focus groups were held across the state in September and October 2019 in Sioux City, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Cedar Rapids, and the Quad Cities. A series of anonymous online employer survey also provided direct feedback from the field to ensure wages, education and training requirements, job duties, career benefits, and other aspects are accurate and reflective of the current market.
These materials introduce readers to this fast-paced and growing industry and the diverse and interesting careers that play a role in the movement and storage of materials, goods, and people by land, air, rail, and water throughout the state of Iowa. Links to additional resources have been provided throughout the document and the Future Ready Iowa Career Coach site for readers to learn more about these exciting opportunities in their local communities. There are many different ways to work in transportation, distribution, and logistics to connect our communities with not only one another, but with the rest of the world!
Work-Based Learning Employer and Educator Guides
In coordination with Iowa’s 15 community colleges, the Iowa Work-Based Learning Intermediary Network, and various trade associations, employers, educators, and other public/private community partners from across the state, the Iowa Department of Education is developing a series of guides to help communities better understand, build, and implement work-based learning opportunities in some of Iowa’s most critical industries. Each industry-specific guide will address special considerations, regulations, resources, and examples of successful programs from across the state
These new resources will help to better engage with students and job seekers of all ages by providing hands-on learning opportunities earlier in the career planning process. Explore the Iowa Work-Based Learning Guide for more general work-based learning guidance and contact Joe Collins to learn more or to be part of this exciting new project.
The IDOE partnered with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Hospital Association, Iowa Health Care Association, Iowa Intermediary Network, and Northeast Iowa Community College to begin exploring options for expanding the quantity, quality, and ease of access to high-quality work-based learning opportunities within the health science industry for Iowa high school students. This project also supports the Future Ready Iowa Initiative’s goal of equipping Iowans with the necessary education or training to step into these critical health science occupations to keep all Iowans happy, healthy, and productive.
The Iowa Department of Education partnered with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI), Elevate Advanced Manufacturing, the Iowa Intermediary Network, and Northeast Iowa Community College to develop resources to expand the work-based learning opportunities within the advanced manufacturing industry for Iowa high school students. This project also supports the Future Ready Iowa Initiative’s goal of equipping Iowans with the necessary education or training to step into these critical advanced manufacturing occupations to keep Iowa’s manufacturers competitive, growing, and strong.
Sector Partnership Toolkits and Resources
A collaborative effort by the state to provide guidance and training on sector partnerships has resulted in the development of a series of downloadable toolkit publications. These toolkits are not exhaustive, but rather aimed at preparing the state and regions to make data-informed critical decisions throughout the three developmental stages of planning, emerging, and sustaining sector partnerships. Each toolkit covers a wide range of topics, advice, real world examples, and supplemental materials that will be helpful at each of these three stages.
Additional stand-alone training materials are also being developed to help guide and assist sector partnerships across the state, often in collaboration with subject matter experts, such as the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and Iowa Workforce Development (IWD). These materials are meant to be used in conjunction with the toolkit publications to cover a more diverse set of topics or to dive deeper into strategies and concepts briefly covered in the toolkits. Contact Joe Collins with ideas or requests for future training materials and needs to ensure Iowa sector partnerships keep running smoothly and efficiently.
Sector Partnership Marketing and Outreach Materials
Similar to a business offering a valuable product or service, sector partnerships should attempt to brand themselves and the value they offer their local members and community. Developing a group name, logo, and brand provide structure, validity, and an identity for the group and its members. A primary facet of brand development is the creation of a logo. This visual representation of the group is meant to summarize its mission, purpose, and vision. It should be easily recognizable, understandable, and consistent across all promotional and outreach efforts to prevent confusion while promoting the group.
The Iowa Sector Partnerships brand and promotional materials have been developed to assist local sector partnership teams in achieving their marketing and outreach goals. Minor variations of the logo are provided to further identify each group by sector of focus, such as information technology, health care, and advanced manufacturing. Additional marketing materials, products, and templates are currently being developed to further support the development of a professional identity for sector partnership teams across the state.
Sector Partnership Facilitator Trainings
The Iowa Department of Education is partnering with the Next Generation Sector Partnership team of national consultants to offer a series of Iowa-exclusive webinars about their successful model of industry-driven, community supported sector partnerships.
No matter what stage you're in - just curious, beginning to plan, already active, or looking to move to the next level - these 90-minute sessions will offer a guided discussion about the value of sector partnerships, lessons learned in other states, and best practice recommendations that can easily be replicated here in Iowa. Each session will also include plenty of time for direct Q&A with national sector partnership experts and will be recorded for future download and review.
Session #1 - Next Generation Sector Partnerships: What They Are and Why Now
Wednesday, July 17, 2019 from 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
In this first session, we’ll lay the foundation of what Next Generation Sector Partnerships are and “why” they matter now more than ever, including hearing directly from a business champion from an established sector partnership program. We will highlight Next Gen’s deliberate integration of workforce and economic development approaches and outcomes, as well as the critical success factors of “industry-driven, community-supported.” The session will conclude with a preview of disciplined, step-by-step process of building Next Gen Sector Partnerships.
Session #2 - Preparing to Launch & Launching a Next Generation Sector Partnership
Wednesday, July 24, 2019 from 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
This webinar will dive into the first three steps to launching a Next Generation Sector Partnership: Building Your Regional Support Team, Defining the Scope of Industry Focus, and Preparing to Launch. Participants will walk away with an understanding of the step-by-step process to launch Next Gen Sector Partnerships.
Session #3 - The Launch and Afterparty
Wednesday, July 31, 2019 from 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
In this webinar you will learn about the launch and steps immediately following the launch to organize the afterparty. We’ll focus on how to build and support action teams around the priorities that business leaders identify at the launch and how to get business leader to step up and own these priorities. Responsiveness and follow through after the launch are two critical elements to success in the long run. We’ll get into how to make this happen and what to avoid.
Session #4 - Sustaining and Evolving
Wednesday, August 7, 2019 from 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Now that we’ve covered what it takes to launch a partnership and organize the immediate aftermath, we’ll get into how to keep partnerships going over time. We’ll also cover how Next Gen Sector Partnerships integrate as a way of doing business across workforce, education, and economic development partners.
Session #5 - FAQ & What to Watch For
Wednesday, August 14, 2019 from 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
What lingering questions do you have around Next Gen Sector partnerships? This session will cover the most frequently asked questions we receive about Next Generation Sector Partnerships across the country and common pitfalls to lookout for! Bring your questions or send ahead of time and be ready to discuss.
In partnership with CAEL, the SPLC sponsored a series of sessions designed to train a cadre of sector partnership facilitators who will both support existing and assist in cultivating future sector partnerships.
First in the series
On September 6, 2016, a webinar, entitled "Iowa Sector Partnership Facilitator Training," was conducted by CAEL’s James Reddish on the basics of sector partnerships to ensure that both existing and potential facilitators possess the same foundational knowledge. If you missed this webinar you are encouraged to view the recording of the September 6 webinar recording and presentation slides.
Second in the series
A more advanced face-to-face session was also offered by CAEL in a few locations throughout Iowa in October 2016. Presentation Slides
Ongoing series: Facilitator Certification Program
A comprehensive state-wide facilitator certification program is being developed through a partnership with the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Workforce Development, and additional members of the Future Ready Iowa initiative to further expand on the strategies outlined in the series of sector partnership toolkit publications. The toolkits are meant to act as an overview of recommended strategies, concepts, and theoretical models. Additional training to be offered will span a longer period of time and cover a wide range of topics recommended for the successful formation and facilitation of a high performing sector partnership, to include, but not limited to:
- Business and industry engagement
- Facilitation and presentation skills
- Data mining and interpretation
- Partnership performance metrics
- Project delegation and management
- Career pathway development
- Customer relationship management
- Economic & community development
These offerings will be made available throughout the year as local in-person training events, online webinars, pre-recorded trainings, and other downloadable content. Similar to the Future Ready Iowa initiative, a few of the primary goals of this facilitator training will be to highlight best practices, nurture high-quality partnerships between regions, and attain efficiencies through collaboration. Resources will be shared by the team through consistent in-person and online interaction to ensure the success of each sector partnership, regardless of current stage of development, geographic location, or industry focus.
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