STEM Prominent in Scaling Work-Based Learning

Photo of NGA core team
Iowa’s core team of leaders at the cross-state meeting of the National Governors Association Policy Academy on Scaling Work-Based Learning in Billings, Montana, in May.

Since late 2015, a core team of Iowans representing a broad spectrum of agencies has been working in concert with peers in five other states to scale work-based learning (WBL) in high-demand fields. Powered by the high-octane fuel of a National Governors Association (NGA) grant, deliverables are beginning to crystallize around practices and policies that will advance WBL in secondary and post-secondary educational settings.

Iowa’s Future Ready goal of 70 percent of our workforce gaining education or training beyond high school by 2025 depends on the expansion of WBL experiences such as Registered Apprenticeships, Quality Pre-Apprenticeships, internships and other opportunities for learners to explore, prepare and train for the high-demand careers that await. Final recommendations to come forth from the NGA-WBL team later this summer include a singular and reliable definition of WBL, examples of best practices, assessment strategies, ways to expand WBL to more learners, an awareness campaign and, of course, a major statewide conference coming up on June 21.

Iowa’s STEM BEST® school-business partnerships and emergent Quality Pre-Apprenticeship models, as well as Registered Apprenticeships through Iowa Workforce Development and internships through Iowa’s Economic Development Authority are examples of leading-edge WBL practices to build upon. Direct any questions regarding what or whom make up Iowa’s NGA-WBL effort to project co-leads Pradeep Kotamraju at the Iowa Department of Education ( or Jeff Weld, executive director of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council (   

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