October 31, 2014

Governor unveils program to help workers improve their skills

Governor Branstad talks about a new program to help workers.

Governor Branstad today unveiled a new worker training program called the Skilled Iowa Initiative.

“We are seeing businesses that are wanting to hire people today, but they can’t find people with the right skill set,” Branstad said at a news conference in Des Moines.

About a dozen business leaders have contributed $250,000 to launch the program, which will offer job seekers access to testing for a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). Iowa businesses, in turn, will be encouraged to hire certified workers.

“By measuring work-related behaviors combined with hard skills, employers will be able to identify individuals likely to excel in their organization – decreasing training costs and increasing retention,” Branstad said.

A report released last month by Iowa Workforce Development found half of Iowa’s overall jobs require at least a two-year college degree, but only 33% of Iowa’s workers have the training to fill those so-called “middle-skills” jobs. Part of the Skilled Iowa Initiative involves an eight week long internship program for unemployed Iowans for on the job training.

“Employers will benefit by determining if an employee is a great fit for their organization,” Branstad said of the internship program. “At the end of the eight week program, the job seeker will have the opportunity to pursue full time (employment) opportunities with the company.”

Des Moines businessman Bill Knapp contributed $50,000 to the initiative. Knapp, a Democrat, said it’s critical that lawmakers work together to create jobs and improve the state.

“I’ll have to say, over the years, I’ve not been a very big supporter (of yours) governor, I’m sure that’s well known” Knapp said. “I think if him and I can work together, this ought to send a message across Iowa that Democrats and Republicans should start working together for the good of Iowa and make this a better place for all of us.”

More information about the Skilled Iowa Initiative is available at www.skillediowa.org.