Forging Partnerships for Future Growth

November 24, 2020

The Gazette

Guest Columnist |Phil Jasper

Last month, Collins Aerospace had the privilege of hosting the Iowa Business Council's "Vision to Vitality" community forum from Cedar Rapids. Community leaders came together virtually to discuss recovery efforts from COVID-19 and the derecho, as well as employment challenges we face cultivating the talent pipeline.

Our panel of business leaders, educators and workforce experts discussed current challenges and shared aspirations for the future, while also inviting collaboration. The forum was an important reminder that Cedar Rapidians are uniquely resilient- especially when we work together. Our community's ability to pivot in the face of adversity will serve us well as we emerge from our recent setbacks, as will our track record of working together across the public and private sectors.

That's certainly been true for Collins. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the commercial aviation industry, but the resilience and determination of our employees - 9,000 of whom live right here in Iowa -and the support of our long-term economic development partners here have contributed to our ability to adapt and grow other parts of our business.

As a member of the Iowa Business Council, I've witnessed the benefit of private-public collaboration at the state level, as well. The council consists of 22 members who are the chief decision-makers of major Iowa employers. IBC member companies have invested billions of dollars in Iowa's commercial infrastructure; lead the way in technology innovation, R & D, and grants procured; and are often the driving financial volunteer forces behind philanthropic efforts all over the state.

One objective of the "Vision to Vitality" forum was to look for creative ways to grow a successful, career ready workforce. Childcare continues to be among the largest budget items for Iowa families. The IBC seeks to partner with organizations and policymakers to address this issue. Options include tax credits, public-private partnerships and assistance programs that expand access to affordable, quality care.

Work-based learning provides students with real-life work experiences through internships, externships and apprenticeships. By fusing theory with practical experience, we can cultivate the next generation of talent, right here in Iowa. While in-person opportunities may be limited in the short term due to the pandemic, students and educators are actively looking for virtual learning experiences.

Future Ready Iowa connects our workforce to the education and training required for good paying jobs and careers that have improve people's lives. The state initiative's goal is to empower 70 percent of Iowans with meaningful education and training beyond high school by 2025.

We closed the forum in agreement that all of these issues are interconnected. We can grow the talent of tomorrow only if we are able to give the workforce of today the tools they need to thrive in our community. The leadership at Collins Aerospace and the Iowa Business Council looks forward to collaborating at the local, regional and state levels to achieve these goals in a unified, bipartisan manner.

Read the Gazette article here


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