Iowa: Statewide Work-Based Learning Intermediary Network

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reported that 68 percent of all jobs in Iowa will need postsecondary education and training past high school by 2025, a statistic that is three percentage points higher than the projected national average. The current Future Ready Iowa initiative addresses this forecast and seeks to build Iowa’s talent pipeline. The objective is for 70 percent of the state’s workforce to be educated or trained past the high school level by 2025. Beginning in Fiscal Year 2014, the Iowa Department of Education allocated $1.45 million annually to the statewide Work-based Learning Intermediary Network (Intermediary Network) to work toward that goal. Specifically, the Intermediary Network will better align career interests of secondary and postsecondary students with the necessary postsecondary experiences for that career.

This funding is equally split between the state’s 15 community colleges, with each having its own Intermediary Network devoted to the needs of that region. While the Intermediary Network is housed in the community college system, it also serves all secondary students in each college’s  corresponding school district. All networks offer core services to students such as: setting up job shadow experiences; helping procure student internships and teacher or student tours. A 25 percent local match of resources is required along with this grant, and can be comprised of private donations, in-kind donations or public funding.

The program’s purpose is to “prepare students for the workforce by connecting business and the education system and offering relevant, work-based learning to students and teachers.” The Intermediary Networks drive this goal, acting as the coordinating entity and single point of contact for regional work-based learning opportunities.The Intermediary Network builds industry relationships and provides guidance to students in how to best align interests with relevant educational and career experiences.

Policy in Action

Iowa reported work-based learning experiences in 2017. Retrieved from: Iowa Department of Education
Iowa reported work-based learning experiences in 2017. Retrieved from: Iowa Department of Education 

All Intermediary Networks are part of the CTE planning partnership in their corresponding region. There are regular coordination efforts between groups, and the current strategic plans of all 15 CTE regional partnerships include promotion of work-based learning.

Work-based learning opportunities are offered for each of the 16 Career Clusters ®, though networks must especially target resources to in-demand industries. Typically a needs assessment is carried out by each intermediary network along with a representative from the corresponding school district. This ensures that relevant opportunities are offered in each region across Career Clusters ®. 

In Fiscal Year 2017, Iowa continued to see success as measured by increased involvement of students in work based learning opportunities, as well as efficient use of funding that in turn will allow for greater student participation in the coming year. For example, in Fiscal Year 2014, there was a total of 15,447 participants in work site core services, growing to 20,309 participants in Fiscal Year 2017. In Fiscal Year 2014, a total of 19,112  took part in what is categorized as “other core services” through the Intermediary Networks. In Fiscal Year 2017, this number grew to 41,684. The amount of other core services offered by each of the 15 networks significantly expanded in those years, providing students with a wider range of opportunities for participation. Overall, the Iowa Intermediary Network reported  improved relationships with businesses, more collaboration between agencies and increased work-based learning opportunities.

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August 2018