The area, and for that matter, Iowa in general have a unique problem, it’s the only region in the country where job openings outnumber unemployed job seekers. Advocates of community college say they could help fill that gap if more students considered a two-year degree.
The Iowa governor’s “Future Ready” initiative includes a higher-education credential for 70% of all state residents by 2025, compared to the current 58%. Des Moines Area Community College President Rob Denson says too many Iowans still don’t access the educational opportunities in their own backyard.
Denson says the most obvious reason that students attend community college is the financial advantage, but they also feature flexibility and smaller classes.
Sixty percent of jobs in Iowa require more than a high-school diploma, but no more than a two-year degree. Denson says many jobs listed on the Iowa Workforce Development website require minimal investment of time and financial resources, and federal dollars are often available for tuition.
Denson says high school counselors need to be ready to talk to students about the advantages of attending community college.
The average annual in-state college tuition in Iowa was nearly $20,000 dollars for the last academic year. Iowa’s median income is about $56,000 per year.