IWD spokesperson, Kerry Koonce, says they hope to address a skills gap in what employers are looking for and the skills potential workers possess. “The construction industry has an exceptional need right now for some of the millions of dollars of projects that are going on right now across the state,” Koonce says.
She says it can be tough for businesses to take on employees for the positions. “Registered apprenticeship training is of course one that is usually paid for by the employer. It’s a great benefit for the individual, they get their training and they earn while they learn, but it’s a cost that the employers bare,” Koonce explains. “This will help expand those training programs, allow more individuals to be trained, and the training costs will be paid for by the grant.”
Koonce says it varies by program, but it usually costs $3,000 to $4,000 for each worker. The are preparing to send out funds to groups which met the application guidelines.
“We saw proposals come in that were funded from the Associated Builders and Contractors of Iowa — which the represent small construction businesses across the state — Southeastern Community College Center for Business and the Southeast Iowa Electrical Apprenticeship, and also the Iowa Energy Construction Trades, which is 19 affiliate members of the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council. So, those are the ones that received the funding,” Koonce says.
Koonce says it shouldn’t take long to get the new participants in the program. “Most of them are ready to go, a lot of them will be beginning here just in February and then throughout the next few months,” Koonce says. ” The grant is dedicated to training 1,500 new individuals — so these are individuals who are not currently in any apprenticeship program — into a variety of different construction-based careers.”
Koonce says they are working on additional components of the grant program that IWD will announce in the coming weeks.