Higher Education Seeks to Bring Attention to Civic Skills Gap and Solutions

Iowa is facing a civic skills gap. Communities face challenges that require active citizens with the ability and willingness to apply skills like communication, critical thinking, and teamwork.  The 21 college and university members of Iowa Campus Compact (IACC) are working to fill this gap by helping students build these skills through community experiences.

To be successful, a broader coalition of nonprofit, community, and business leaders is needed, so IACC is launching a new campaign to help bring attention to the issue and solutions.

“Community experiences were central to developing my ability to frame and solve problems, to manage projects independently, to communicate effectively, to work with groups of diverse people, and to celebrate the contributions of people at all levels of the organization,” said Iowa Campus Compact Board Chair and Coe College President David McInally on his personal experience in building core skills through community experiences.

In addition to building civic skills, community experiences can also contribute to gaps in workforce skills. Three in four employers said in a recent survey that they want colleges to place more emphasis on critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings and 92% said volunteering expands an employee’s professional skill set (Association of American Colleges and Universities report).

The new “Giving Voice to the Civic Mission” campaign will seek to elevate the public understanding of how quality, hands-on experiences shape students into effective leaders. We will share stories of how volunteer projects, service-learning courses, alternative break trips, nonprofit internships, and a range of other opportunities leverage real-world experience while contributing to community needs.

It is our goal that this information will help parents and students can take advantage skill-building community experiences, assist employers can seek candidates who have had these experiences, and encourage community leaders to support the partnerships needed to make more of these experiences a reality.

Here’s how to get involved:

  • Students and alumni: share your stories of building skills through community experiences.
  • Employers: get new resources and ideas on seeking and building these skills in employees.
  • Parents and students: find out how to engage in these experiences.
  • Nonprofits and community leaders:  find new ideas and connections with colleges and universities to create more of these skill-based opportunities.

Learn more about this initiative and get involved.