Business and Education Connecting for Iowa’s Future


At SAI's February 4 Executive Leaders event, college representatives, workforce development managers, school leaders and select business leaders from the same geographic regions were grouped in teams with the purpose of growing relationships, identifying next steps, and articulating each of our respective roles as we work toward our goal of meeting the learning needs of our K-12 students. We began the evening by revisiting the themes that surfaced through our discussions with business leaders in November. Regional teams then prioritized the items that they believed could best be addressed through their collaborative efforts. Using a planning template, teams defined responsibilities and made plans for future meeting dates, implementation, and action.

Solid relationships in each region have now been established and regional partners are committed to working together to focus K-12 education in ways that will continue to help make Iowa’s students college and career ready. SAI's Executive Leaders are excited about the opportunities our students will have thanks to the contributions and ongoing collaboration with business leaders.



Iowa business leaders met November 5 at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny with school superintendents from across the state to build relationships and establish connections that will lead to opportunities for students.

“It is a great time to convene a group of business leaders and school administrators to have a candid conversation about talent needs. Consensus on future demand for skill sets, education, and experiences should help ensure we not only sustain, but rather gain momentum, growing our employment base, increasing wages and improving the lives of many,” said Dan Houston, president and CEO of the Principal Financial Group.

Participants engaged in discussions regarding the opportunities and challenges that both businesses and school districts face statewide. Gaining a greater understanding of these challenges is a critical step in the groups working together to address and overcome them.

“As Iowa's public schools continue to lead in the preparation of all students for success in the world of work, we value the opportunity to listen, learn and share with Iowa's business and industry leaders,” stated Kevin Hatfield, West Branch Community School District superintendent and chairman of the school superintendents’ Executive Leaders group.

Superintendents from 116 of Iowa’s school districts were on hand for the conversations. Business leaders from all four corners of the state and central Iowa participated representing a broad array of businesses.

Several key themes surfaced as a focus for further discussions: developing soft skills, such as attitude, aptitude and attendance; improving communication skills and increasing awareness of available careers.

Both business and education leaders look forward to continuing the conversations throughout the state in the future. Identifying ways for education and business to collaborate is key to Iowa’s success.