Two job fairs scheduled for tomorrow in Cedar Rapids and Monday in Sioux City will try to link employers with people who getting out of prison and looking to start their lives over.
Iowa’s U.S. Attorney for the Northern District, Kevin Techau, says his office is sponsoring the job fairs. “These are designed so that employers can tap into the unexplored pipeline of workforce talent from those who are coming out of our state and federal prisons,” Techau says.
Techau says the job fair is a culmination of efforts with Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Department of Corrections. “Our job one is national security and prosecuting crimes, but we know that the most successful people who have served their time are gonna need to be gainfully employed. There’s no benefit to society to have people reoffend. So we are motivated to bring out people successfully after having served their time,” Techau says. “We found that many employers didn’t realize potential job pool for employees.” He admits that some employers are reluctant at first to think about hiring ex-prisoners.
“Once people listen to other employers who have tapped into this workforce and take a case-by-case look — there are many, many good matches for employers. There are many good talented people,” according to Techau. He says the prisoners have been working toward getting a new start by learning different trades while they are still in prison.
“Both in the federal and state prison systems, inmates are given a whole host of skills they can tap into. Everything from manufacturing and welding type skills down through he culinary arts,” Techau explains. “And so, part of the purpose of rehabilitation is to give people office skills, manufacturing skills, culinary skills, so when they get out they are employable.”
Techau says the former prisoners will get a chance to talk with employers and showcase the skills they have.”We’re trying to attract a variety of different employers. We’ve got manufacturers, we’ve got public service, public sector and everything in between,” Techau says.
The Cedar Rapids job fair runs Friday from 9:30 A.M. until 12:30 P.M. at the Hotel at Kirkwood Center. The Sioux City job fair is Monday at the same hours at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center.