Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg made a special visit to the Whitehill Auditorium at the Iowa Veterans Home on Thursday morning to speak to teachers participating in an externship at the facility.
The Marshalltown Community School District has presented a series of summer externships for teachers from area districts, giving educators the opportunity to tour facilities like Emerson, JBS and IVH, and the primary goal of these excursions has been to give teachers an inside look at the needs of the workforce so they can better prepare their students.
Before Gregg addressed them, the teachers heard a presentation from IVH Commandant Matthew Peterson, who explained the ins and outs of IVH. MCSD Superintendent Theron Schutte also took the stage and talked about how the Bobcat Ready initiative, which focuses on student career readiness, coincided with Gov. Kim Reynolds’s Future Ready Iowa program, which also focuses on preparing students for the workforce. Schutte then introduced Gregg to complete the presentation.
Gregg said he was honored to be there, and he was glad to see educators participating in the externship.
“I appreciate all that you’re doing. I think it helps educators gain some experience, and I think it helps them see that (with) the work that they’re doing in the classroom, they can help connect that with their students and be exposed to all these different industries,” Gregg said.
Gregg felt that the externships were important because of how much workforce requirements change from year to year and how much education has to change around those new needs.
“As I think about our education system and think about our challenges, we need to be preparing kids for opportunities that it’s hard for us to even fathom right now,” Gregg said. “I always like to quote a former secretary of education at the federal level who said that ‘Our job in the education system is to train students for jobs that don’t exist yet, using technologies that haven’t been invented yet, to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems yet.’”
The example Gregg offered was Uber, the popular ridesharing phone application that didn’t yet exist when he graduated from high school in 2002.
“When you think about the pace of innovation and technology and you think about what that means for the students that walked across the stage this past spring, and who will go across the stage next spring as well, what are their jobs going to look like? And how can we not only connect with the jobs that are available today and make their classroom lessons relevant to that, but how can we prepare them for that economy they’re going to be operating in 20 years from now?” Gregg said. “I think that’s the challenge that we all share across the board.”
Gregg said he and legislators think about these issues all the time. Making the education system more adaptable to industry needs and normalizing the need to update skill sets over time are all goals in his eyes, and he feels Future Ready Iowa, a program that funds practical learning for secondary students and introduces students to education opportunities in fields that are in high demand, is an excellent way to facilitate them.
Gregg also mentioned another education goal, which aims to give high school students at least one work-based learning experience prior to graduation. He felt this would encourage students to stay closer to home and build prosperous rural communities.