Corridor employers, colleges and universities must stay on top of a fast-changing and diverse workplace to remain competitive when preparing students for the workplace, according to a panel discussion during Iowa City Area Development Group’s annual meeting Thursday evening at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort.
“We will need people with the talent and skills to be familiar with things are going, not where they are,” said Jeffrey Bohling, vice president and general manager of General Dynamics Information Technology.
“We need a different perspective. A Microsoft certificate from Kirkwood may be a little outdated because in a year to three years only about 20 percent of devices will be on a Microsoft platform.”
The panel featured a mix of professionals and educators, including Sarah Gardial, dean of the Tippie College of Business, and Kim Johnson, vice president of continuing education and training services at Kirkwood Community College.
Johnson and Gardial touched on how colleges and universities must change the way they teach students to better prepare them for a more global, technology-focused work place.
“There are interesting challenges we have in a radically changing world,” Gardial said. “How do we prepare students to be successful in a world where we don’t know what it looks like?”
Gardial said it’s important to spend time talking with businesses to learn their wants and needs. There also must be conversations on the kindergarten-through-grade-12 level to prepare students for higher education, either at the community college or university level, she said.
“We all need to link arms, and leverage all the different things we bring to the table,” she said.
Iowa City Community School District Superintendent Steve Murley agreed, saying the Corridor should take a cradle-to-career approach to both prepare students and keep them in Iowa. He also advocated for finding more ways for students to see how what they’re learning in school translates to the workplace.
“It’s hard to send a graduate out into the system if they don’t know where they’re going or what to do,” Murley said.
He added that job shadow opportunities and internships can help open students’ eyes to careers and paths they may not have known about.
“We need to get them engaged in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields so they can see it in action.”