In August 2016, then-Governor Terry Branstad signed Executive Order 88, which first established the Future Ready Iowa initiative and Future Ready Alliance to develop and implement a strategic plan for the future of Iowa’s workforce. When first established, the end goal of Future Ready Iowa was to help meet the anticipated skills needs of Iowa’s workforce by making sure that at least 70 percent of Iowans received some form of post-high school education or training by 2025.

The path to achieving this goal involved a wide number of resources, programs, and new initiatives – and, as Governor Reynolds announced in her 2024 Condition of the State, we are now proud to report that we have met that goal as a state.

The strategies have expanded over the years as various workforce challenges arose (including a worldwide pandemic). As we knew in the beginning (and saw even more following the pandemic), individuals frequently get hired into their chosen occupation before they complete their actual degree or credential. Employers looking for workers also tend to care most about the skills readily available for high demand occupations. Therefore, multiple programs focused on creating these pathways for Iowans, and they helped many more Iowans expand their careers.

Iowa’s progress in worker readiness has been documented through IWD’s statewide Laborshed Survey. This ​survey found that Iowa’s postsecondary educational readiness level had reached 71.8 percent in 2022. This figure includes both the Iowans who received a certificate and those adults who attended training and education programs that they stated helped them acquire skills that have added value to their career path (despite not officially completing a program). This number, instead of simple completion, is the metric that most reflects Iowa’s workforce readiness, and it represents a collective effort of utilizing new ideas and initiatives.

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Workforce Readiness and What's Next

With the state reaching its goal, the program will begin to transition. However, the programs and initiatives spurred by Future Ready Iowa – including work-based learning opportunities, scholarships, and targeted grants – will live on. 

View the recent years of readiness figures below.

Laborshed 25-64 Ed. Attainment Study: 2017-2023
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Resources and Programs Created by Future Ready Iowa's Efforts

Young Adults Undergoing On-The-Job Training
Opportunities to Grow the Workforce

Grants and Scholarships

Information on IWD's workforce grants, the Last-Dollar Scholarship program, and other opportunities that are benefiting Iowa's workforce and creating new careers.

Statewide Work-based Learning
Covering Gaps in Tuition

Last-Dollar Scholarship Program

Unique state program that helps Iowans achieve their education and training goals by helping cover gaps in tuition for high-demand occupations.

One-On-One Career Assistance
Resources to Help Start New Careers

Career Exploration and Resources

IWD has the resources to help any Iowan advance in their career path or find a start in a new one.

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