Q2030 21st Century Workforce

During the past couple of years, the Quad Cities Chamber, Quad Cities College and University Presidents Council, United  Way of the Quad Cities, and many partner organizations and business and industry have been working behind the scenes laying the groundwork to raise post-secondary degree and certificate achievement rates in our community. This work was  propelled by a 3-year Community Partners for Achievement grant from the Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with degrees, certificates and other high-quality credentials to 60 percent by 2025. State leaders are responding to the growing global demand for talent by setting goals and enacting policies to increase attainment. Attainment is being defined as a college degree or a certification established by industry or other nationally-recognized third party for education or training beyond high school.

Although improvements need to be made to collect data that include post-secondary certificates, estimates through the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau provide the following postsecondary educational attainment rates for a completed associate degree or higher:

  • Quad Cities: 35.8%
  • State of Iowa: 43.2%
  • State of Illinois: 43.6%
  • USA: 38.7%
  • This is starkly contrasted by Korea, who leads industrial nations at 60+%.

The goals and deadlines vary, but the work is unanimously important:

  • Lumina Foundation: 60% by 2025
  • Obama Administration: 60% by 2020
  • Future Ready Iowa: 70% by 2025

On April 28, 2016, 157 community members representing business and industry, social services, K-12 and higher education gathered at the Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf for the Quad Cities Lumina Stakeholder Convening, challenged with questions of:

                1. How do we increase college-going and career aspirations of our youth?
                2. How do we increase the completion rates of our postsecondary students?
                3. How do we increase the postsecondary completion rates of adults already in the work force?

According to 2014 U.S. Census Data as reported by Lumina, at the current growth rate of the community (all else equal), the Quad Cities would not reach a 60% attainment rate until the year 2051.

The day served to share information and gather critical input in making certificate and degree completion a priority in the Quad Cities. We learned that many people and programs are already doing good work, but most are operating independently of one another, and, some are even duplicating services.

The conversation and goals from the convening align with the Quad Cities Chamber Q2030 Regional Plan, in the 21st Century Workforce priority under the Creative People pillar. Moving forward, efforts will be combined, and championed by community leaders: Dr. Don Doucette, LaDrina Wilson, Amy Nimmer, and Dr. Ellen Kabat Lensch to:

                1. Significantly improve the educational attainment levels of our communities.
                2. Ensure the skilled work force necessary to support a thriving economy.
                3. Reduce poverty.
                4. Ensure an informed citizenry and healthy democracy.
                5. Develop, attract and retain talent.
                6. To be a cool, creative and prosperous region.

The five sub-workgroups that emerged out of the 4.28.16 convening will each be led by a team of volunteer co-chairs with 10-13 additional volunteers, called “Talents” -according to the Q2030 Regional Vision structure. They include:
                1. Attracting and Retaining Talent
                2. College Planning (financial aid/ getting ready to begin)
                3. Career Awareness
                4. Up-skilling and Re-skilling our Workforce
                5. Credential Completion and Success

Co-chairs are currently soliciting talent to add to their teams.

Current Strengths of the Region

The conversation has been started
There is bi-state cooperation
There is a wealth of partnerships to draw on: public/private, K-12/Business
There are many post-secondary options
Business/Industry is already vibrant to attract and retain talent
The region is becoming more aware of the collective impact on how educational needs are changing
Data has been collected to guide the work forward:

QC K-12s are involved in National Clearinghouse (tracking data – who goes on to postsecondary and who gets certifications)  Data will help us set goals.  If K-12 graduate does not go immediately to postsecondary training, they have less than a 1% chance of completing (QC statistic).

The Data Warehouse housed at SAU tracks variety of efforts – K readiness, 3rd grade reading, credit accrual, school attendance. Eventually it will allow us to compare interventions.

Common Themes

High School is not enough anymore.

  • The focus of the nation has been on high school graduation – and we are improving that statistic.  We now need to focus on postsecondary.
  • Today’s students need more competency-based credentials – those that are transportable and MEAN something to employers.

Credential attainment and completion efforts should be inclusive of race, income and age.

  • Students of color need to see role models/leaders that look like them.
  • We need more diverse faculty in the classroom; we struggle to attract and employ people of color.
  • Need to schedule classes around student needs- many work during the day when classes are held.
  • Need to shift from the idea of “helping” to serving.

Engaged committees need a way to share resources and best practices.

  • Logistically, who will administer the efforts and communication? Where would they be located to be accessible to all?
  • How will information and best practices be shared?
  • Who is financially supporting the charge?