Helping our students become “Future-Ready”

Last week, Mr. Bundt and I had the opportunity to facilitate a panel discussion at the Future-Ready Iowa Summit.  Our session was entitled, “Iowa’s Tech Workforce:  What Employers Need from K-12 Schools.”  The panelists who shared their insights were: 

  • Wendy Batchelder, Chief Data Officer, VMware, Des Moines
  • Michelle Bates, Founder and CEO, SkyPrairie Inc., Coralville
  • David Collison, Senior Vice President Applications Development, ITS/SHAZAM, Johnston
  • Dan Greteman, Chief Information Officer, Ruan Transportation, Des Moines
  • Tyler Wyngarden, Vice President of Development, Technology Association of Iowa, Des Moines
  • Jessa Erickson, Owner, ThinkSpace IT, Harlan 

We also had the opportunity to attend the other sessions of the summit.  There were several recurring themes throughout the summit, that are important for us to remember as we serve and prepare our students.  While the emphasis was on STEM careers, these themes are transferrable to almost any career.  Below are a few of the most important points:

  1. Almost every company is a “tech” company when you consider the global connectedness of our world and our reliance on the internet and all the various technology devices.
  2. The speed of change makes it very difficult to prepare students for specific jobs, but there are very clear skills that will serve our students no matter what careers they choose to pursue.
  3. The skills most often addressed during the conference were:
    • Collaboration – The ability to work effectively with others – both in person, and virtually.
    • Communication – The ability to express oneself clearly and succinctly, and the ability to listen well, and work with others to develop shared understanding
    • Problem-solving – The ability to process information, consider different perspectives and make decisions that move projects forward.
    • Adaptability – The ability and willingness to adjust quickly and without complete information – to change in a dynamic environment.
    • Empathy – The ability to relate to others and earnestly consider their perspectives, thoughts and feelings and considering these as you pursue the mission of your business.

At MOC-Floyd Valley, we are working hard to provide our students with the skills above.  That is why we emphasize productive struggle – where our students move beyond their comfort zones on a regular basis.  It is also why we are working harder than ever to create and foster authentic relationships with our community business partners that help our students develop these skills in the “real world” and become future-ready!