Mike Gronstal, from Council Bluffs, has been the Senate Democratic Leader since 1997. First elected to office in 1982, Gronstal served one term in the Iowa House (1983-85), and is currently in his seventh term in the Senate. He is the State Democratic Leader in the Iowa Senate and has been a lifelong advocate for public education and smart politics.


We are fortunate to have Mike Gronstal represent us, our students, our schools and our profession. In the current political climate it is vital that you understand that we need YOU. Your time, your talent, and--eventually--your treasure will be needed to make sure that we reverse the trend of legislators who are willing to sell out our children for corporate tax cuts.

Iowa works when education works

Mike continues to work closely at the Capitol with legislators who believe jobs should be the Legislature’s number one priority. This week we focused on making sure Iowa employers can hire the skilled workers they need and helping Iowans get training so that they can fill available jobs.
Often what’s needed is specific skill training rather than a two- or four-year degree. Iowans can already earn industry-recognized skill certificates in programs such as welding or health care at our community colleges. Unfortunately, there are currently barriers that prevent them from joining these programs and taking on good jobs with local businesses.

The folks who could benefit most are generally not traditional students, and they’re likely to need financial aid. But specific skill development often doesn’t qualify for existing financial aid, which usually goes to students pursuing academic degrees. That’s why we proposed legislation this week to prevent Iowans from falling through the cracks while meeting employers’ demand for skilled workers. Here’s how:

First, we want to help community colleges reach out to this overlooked group. Community colleges, which work closely with local employers, will provide these students with information about local job openings and the skills needed to do the work. Under our proposal, college counselors will help them put together the personal and financial resources necessary to complete certificate programs and fill those jobs.

Second, to close the gaps in financial aid, we propose helping eligible Iowans with training costs, including tuition, books, fees and equipment. A pilot program at Kirkwood Community College has already helped 350 Iowa workers at an average tuition cost of about $1,000 per student.

One of those success stories braved the recent blizzard and traveled from Cedar Rapids to Des Moines to speak at our news conference announcing these ideas. Donnie Stanley was an unemployed mom when she entered the pilot program. Three months later, she was a Certified Nursing Assistant. She now works fulltime, supports her family and plans to continue upgrading her skills.

Building stronger relationships with our community colleges makes sense. After all, community colleges are where Iowa workers go to improve their skills. They have a strong tradition of partnering with businesses to train workers to meet local needs, while making Iowa businesses competitive and profitable.


Post a Comment