New report outlines education’s role in work force development

Education figures prominently in a new set of recommendations for helping to better prepare tomorrow’s workers.

Here are some education-related recommendations from the state’s work force development task force report:

  • Idaho needs to connect its education system to careers by supporting “all pathways for students to achieve education, training and work force skills that align to their career aspirations.” Specifically, schools should emphasize “project-based learning” that incorporates workplace skill development, and establish partnerships with local businesses.
  • Expanded college and career advising programs should ensure that rural students have equal access to counseling. “Education should ensure that students are provided with rich college and career exploration opportunities and planning that engages, but does not overwhelm, industry.” The 2016 Legislature put another $5 million into high school counseling, and added another $2 million in 2017.
  • School districts should receive incentives “to incorporate work force readiness skills throughout secondary curriculum.”
  • Schools should work with industry to expand apprenticeships.
  • The state should expand high-demand career-technical programs, in high schools and two- and four-year colleges. The 2017 Legislature put $1.9 million into expanding popular CTE programs.

The 17-member, industry-driven task force has studied work force issues since January.

David Hill

“There is great willingness on all sides to address this issue head-on,” said task co-chair David Hill, a retired Idaho National Laboratory administrator who sits on the State Board of Education. “That will require engaging with employers and potential employees early and often in order to meet a growing demand for people who are workplace-ready, trained and prepared to take on our high-demand jobs.”

The report points out that Idaho is in the midst of unprecedented job growth. But if Idaho doesn’t prepare a skilled work force, “businesses will go elsewhere to create new, high-quality jobs, damaging every local economy.”

The task force concluded its work in June and submitted its recommendations to Gov. Butch Otter on July 1. Otter’s office released the 28-page report Monday.