The latest unemployment numbers just came out and the numbers are both exciting and troublesome.

For the economy of our communities, these low numbers are great, because almost everybody is working. For the local workforce, there are jobs aplenty. For local businesses, it’s kind of scary.

I’ve been in a lot of meetings and discussions in various settings with a broad variety of individuals where the topic of workforce development has been the focal point.

There are several issues that continue to surface. How do we educate and train our young people for the jobs that we have right in here in rural Iowa? What do we need to do to inform people about all of the great jobs that we have available now and in the future? And what do we need to do to improve the quality of life in our small towns to attract new people in, while retaining the local families needed to be vibrant communities?

One mindset that has shifted over the last few years, and I believe needs to continue to change, is the mentality that the goal of all high school students should be to obtain a 4-year college degree.

For some, that is definitely still the right choice, but for the majority of students, I don’t think it is anymore.

I went to Iowa State, and those were 5 of the best years of my life. The experience was something that has shaped my life and who I am. But until we bought the EJ this year, I hadn’t used any of the things that I learned in lectures or classrooms. Now I’m finally the journalist I always wanted to be (insert smiley face emoji here).

Our local schools are doing a great job of introducing hands-on education for our kids. They are truly doing some amazing things. We need to support these programs and these students, and encourage them to pursue careers that they will enjoy and that are sorely needed in our area.

Quite often, the rest of the skills that they need to continue that journey can be obtained at a regional trade school or community college. Once they finish that, they can get into the work force with little or no debt. That is a valuable lesson that we need to teach at a young age.

As businesses we need to promote the quality jobs we have, and as a town we need to be cognizant of what young families are looking for to make our town their home. More on those topics next week.


  1. Lindsey,

    This article really resonated with me. I agree with the idea that college may not be the answer for everyone, especially when that education is often impersonal and still full of hoops that you need to jump through to get a degree. The last two international schools that I have worked for discussed this idea openly as we worked to create an experience for students that would align with their passions and aim to improve our world, two things that I took from your article. Ted Dintersmith recently wrote a book titled “Most Likely to Succeed”. In that, he calls for schools and communities to take action with our education system that currently is guided by standardized assessments. Websites such as GettingSmart, TeachThought and HighTechHigh are excellent places to start when thinking about developing an education system that is student-centered and prepares them for authentic, real world learning. Thanks for the great articles that you are writing.


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