Branstad sets ambitious education goal: 70% by 2025

From Press Release


A new report released today by the Branstad-Reynolds Administration in collaboration with the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown Center) projects that from 2010 to 2025, Iowa will add 612,000 jobs to its economy, including replacement jobs due to retirement. The report, Iowa: Education and Workforce Trends Through 2025, also finds that 68 percent of all jobs are expected to require postsecondary education and training beyond high school, which positions Iowa 18th among the states and 3 percentage points above the national average. Building on that foundation, Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds are calling for 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce to have education or training beyond high school by 2025 so that more Iowans have great career opportunities and employers have the skilled workforce they need.

“Education or training beyond high school is the new minimum in today’s increasingly knowledge-based, global economy,” said Branstad. “The Georgetown Center report gives us a strong baseline for setting an ambitious goal of 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce having two- and four-year college degrees, certificates, and other valuable credentials and experience by 2025.”

“Employers across Iowa regularly tell us that they struggle to fill both middle-skill and high-skill job openings,” said Reynolds. “We look forward to a public conversation about how to close the skills gap at a series of Future Ready Iowa Roundtables that we’ll hold in October across the state.”

Three Future Ready Iowa Roundtables will be held this month in Waukee, Cedar Falls and Sioux City about how to strengthen Iowa’s talent pipeline. Roundtable participants include Branstad, Reynolds, business, labor, nonprofit and education leaders, and high school and college students. The public is invited to attend the hour-long conversations. For more details, please see the roundtable schedule below.

In support of the Branstad-Reynolds Administration’s commitment to giving students a globally competitive education and as part of a National Governors Association grant to strengthen Iowa’s talent pipeline, the report analyzes industry and occupational trends to determine the education and workforce requirements that will need to be met for Iowa to achieve its economic development goals.

“The leadership in Iowa has a demonstrated understanding of the growing strength of the relationship between postsecondary education and careers, said Anthony P. Carnevale, research professor and director of the Georgetown Center. “With the articulation of this new state goal, they are stepping up to the challenge of matching programs to career opportunities.”

Education projections are critical for determining future government investments in education and informing the allocation of government resources. The state’s education goals will inform postsecondary institutions and K-12 schools of the enrollment, completion and graduation objectives necessary to fill potential job positions, while taking into account individuals from other states who join Iowa’s workforce.

In terms of both output— contribution to the state’s gross domestic product—and employment, Iowa’s largest industries are manufacturing, healthcare and social assistance, and finance and insurance. As the state’s largest industry, manufacturing is projected to add nearly 19,000 jobs through 2025—an 11 percent increase.

When examining the projected job growth by education level, the findings revealed that 32 percent of jobs will require a high school diploma or less; 21 percent of jobs will require a bachelor’s degree; and 8 percent will require a graduate degree. The educational requirements for the middle-skill jobs are more nuanced than the 39 percent figure suggests. The breakdown includes associate’s degrees (12 percent), postsecondary vocational certificates (5 percent), occupational licenses and professional certifications (5 percent), apprenticeship programs (3 percent) and some college credits with labor market value (14 percent).

The occupation trends show that social science, education, community services and arts, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are projected to have the largest shares of jobs that require postsecondary education and training, whereas blue-collar and food and personal services will offer higher salaries and be more readily available to workers with a high school diploma or less.

Since the 1980s, education or training beyond high school has become the new minimum threshold for Americans to earn a living wage and attain middle class status. In 1973, only 28 percent of U.S. jobs required education beyond a high school diploma; by 2025, almost two out of three jobs in the nation will require at least some postsecondary education or training. Iowa’s economy reflects this national trend and demonstrates a steady increase in the demand for postsecondary education and training in the industries that form the mainstay of the economy.

To read the full report, visit

Below is the schedule for the October Future Ready Iowa Roundtables, which are open to the public:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 6, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Waukee Community School District, Prairieview Theater Arts Center, 655 SE. University Ave., Waukee
  • Monday, Oct. 12, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., University of Northern Iowa, Slife Ballroom, 23rd St. & Campus St., Cedar Falls
  • Wednesday, Oct. 28, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Western Iowa Tech Community College, Room L416, 4647 Stone Ave, Sioux City