Building The Workforce of The Future

A key part of the workforce solution for Iowa businesses is building a pipeline of talent. Taking that first step can be overwhelming for small businesses.

“Companies recognize that engaging with high school students can help build a future workforce, but most lack a focused strategy on how to effectively reach younger people,” said Mayra Ramirez, CIRAS project manager. “Through our high school engagement services, we help companies build relationships and become more intentional with their overall student engagement.”

The services are modeled on existing efforts to engage college students with Iowa businesses. It includes similar elements like internships, mentoring opportunities, and project focused tasks.

“We’ve had companies express an interest in working with schools, but they don’t know where to start, who to contact, or what to do,” said Ramirez. “There’s a lot more to it than setting up a table in the foyer outside the cafeteria and expecting students to flock to it. It needs to be more intentional than that.”


Ramirez facilitates introductions between manufacturers and school personnel. She also provides information on existing events that already draw students like Manufacturing Day, and she connects manufacturers with school clubs and organizations. More practical matters like developing job descriptions tailored to high school students, organizing tours of other facilities, and providing opportunities to make presentations to supervisors are also addressed.

“CIRAS has been a fantastic resource for us,” said Shelia Siler, human resources at Revere Plastics Systems, Ankeny. “Mayra provided demographic student data and identified local high school Career and Technical Education points of contact. She was even on-site for our first tour and information sessions with students from the Ankeny area high schools.”

There are key times when companies will ramp up their efforts to reach students, like just before the start of a new school year or new term. But Ramirez encourages companies interested in working with high school students to reach out to her at any time. Schools are also urged to contact her, especially those that offer Career Technical Education (CTE) courses. Ramirez can help find companies with projects for their CTE students.

“We want to be a connector of resources and help our clients find solutions for their unique needs.”

For more information, contact Mayra Ramirez at or 515-520-3101.