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Sector Partnerships


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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.

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.

Sector Partnership Leadership Council

The Council plays the lead role in advising the Department on the development, implementation, and achievement of policies and objectives related to sector partnerships and career pathways across the state.

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. 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 the Department, Iowa's community colleges, Iowa Workforce Development, 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, approximately 60 sector partnerships across the state were found to be in existence, now serving all of Iowa’s 99 counties. This information has continued to be updated and is presented in the interactive map below.

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 meetings are offered each month. Guest speakers, industry representatives, and subject matter experts are often invited to join to cover various topics. Contact Joe Collins to learn more and join meetings.

Sectors of Opportunity - Iowa Career Pathway Mapping Projects

A common need identified by sector partnerships across the state is the development of engaging the informative career pathway resources. General mystique and confusion are often associated with careers in fields such as Information Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, and the Building Trades, which leads to inaccurate stereotypes, the facilitation on inaccurate 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 Department, business, industry and trade associations, employers, and public and private strategic partners to conduct exploratory research and develop career pathway materials for the many exciting career sectors and opportunities available in Iowa. These collaborative efforts will help keep Iowa’s employers strong, growing, and competitive.

Information Technology

Information technology professionals connect and empower our communities every day in Iowa through safe, reliable, and innovative technologies and services. Steady demand for these products and services to fuel a growing economy, the continued blending of our physical and digital identities, and a growing number of tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple relocating to or expanding operations within the state requires skilled Iowans able to design, operate, and maintain these complex technologies, networks, websites, and associated vehicles, machinery, and equipment. Types of occupations include those in application and product design, programming and development, data management and analytics, infrastructure and networking, security and quality assurance, and sales and client relations.

Opportunities in IT: Iowa (2017) - A brief overview of some of the careers available in information technology fields in Iowa.

Opportunities in IT: Iowa (2020) - A more in-depth view of a wider range of IT careers in Iowa, including pictures, testimonials, and additional information to consider.


There are wide range of exciting and well-paying career opportunities for every type of person in Energy and related fields in Iowa. Types of occupations are spread between the six general areas of craft and skilled trades, planning and design, production and operations, transmission and distribution, security and information solutions, and sales and business operations.

Opportunities in Energy: Iowa Career Pathways (2021)

Advanced Manufacturing

Careers in advanced manufacturing are expected to continue to grow in Iowa, largely due to amazing and innovative advances in technologies with robotics, augmented and virtual reality, and 3D printers. This growth will further increase the need for quality advanced manufacturing education and training programs across the state.

Opportunities in Advanced Manufacturing: Iowa

Health Sciences

Careers in the health sciences are expected to continue to grow in Iowa, largely due to an aging population and related health care needs. Much of this growth will include more common occupations, such as doctors and nurses, but also incorporates advances in technology for fast-growing, high-paying areas of diagnostic testing, biotechnology research, and health informatics.

Opportunities in Health Sciences: Iowa

Building Trades (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering - ACE)

Careers in the building trades are expected to continue to grow in Iowa, largely due to increased retirements and steady demand for residential, commercial, and infrastructure projects. Advances in technology will also continue to change how we practice these careers that span the more typical skilled trades, but also including design, engineering, architecture, logistics, management, and sales career paths.

Opportunities in Building Trades: Iowa

Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (TDL)

These materials introduce readers to the fast-paced and growing TDL 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.

Opportunities in Transportation, Distribution and Logistics

Business and Financial Services

Business and financial services professionals are the backbone of Iowa’s economy. These innovative and hard-working individuals provide the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to keep businesses from all industries running smoothly, handle the finances of our community members securely, and maintain the necessary edge to be successful in an increasingly competitive and broadening global market. Types of occupations are grouped in this resource across areas of management and operations, information and risk, people and culture, banking and finance, logistics and supply chain, and marketing and sales.

Opportunities in Business & Financial Services: Iowa

Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

There are many different types of employers, service providers and others involved in the process for planning, producing and providing safe, quality and reliable agricultural, food and natural resource products or services to help feed, power and otherwise improve the lives of those in our communities in Iowa.

Registration is now open for a series of virtual employer roundtables planned for October 2021 to better understand and develop career pathways materials for these diverse fields. Employers who work in or have experience with these areas are welcome to join for any of these sessions to provide direct feedback and guidance. The more participation we receive, the better the final product will be when released in December 2021.

Event Date Time Registration Link
Virtual Roundtable #1 Tuesday, Oct. 12 3-5 p.m.
Virtual Roundtable #2 Thursday, Oct. 14 1-3 p.m.
Virtual Roundtable #3 Monday, Oct. 18 2-4 p.m.
Virtual Roundtable #4 Wednesday, Oct. 20 9-11 a.m.
Virtual Roundtable #5 Friday, Oct. 22 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

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, or toolkits, 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.

  • Iowa Health Science Work-Based Learning Toolkit - The Department 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 students and job seekers.
  • Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Work-Based Learning Toolkit - The Department 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 students and job seekers.

Marketing and Outreach Materials

The Iowa Sector Partnerships brand and promotional materials.

Facilitator Trainings and Resources


The Iowa Department of Education is partnered 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. The recorded sessions are available below.

Session #1 - What They Are and Why Now (1:31:15)
Lays the foundation of what Next Generation Partnerships are and "why" they matter now more than ever, including hearing from a business champion from an established sector partnership program. The session also highlights 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 concludes with a preview of disciplined, step-by-step process of building Next Gen Sector Partnerships.

Session #2 - Preparing to Launch and Launching a Next Generation Sector Partnership (1:30:52)
Dives 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, including an understanding of the step-by-step process to launch Next Gen Sector Partnerships.

Session #3 - The Launch and Afterparty (1:31:12)
Learn about the launch and steps immediately following the launch to organize the afterparty. Focus given to building and supporting action teams around the priorities business leaders identify at the launch and how to get business leaders to step up and own these priorities. Responsiveness and follow through after the launch are two critical elements to success in the long run.

Session #4 - Sustaining and Evolving (1:26:21)
After covering what it takes to launch a partnership and organize the immediate aftermath, this session gets into how to keep partnerships going over time. It also covers how Next Gen Sector Partnerships integrate as a way of doing business across workforce, education, and economic development partners.

Session #5 - FAQ and What to Watch For (1:35:56)
Covers the most frequently asked questions received about Next Generation Sector Partnerships across the country and common pitfalls to lookout for!


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.

Sector Partnership Report
National Governors Association Publications
Sector Partnership in Iowa
Future Ready Iowa


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on October 19, 2021 at 9:28am.