The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 10, 2014

'Skilled Iowa' participation on the rise

By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Last year, 66 Clinton employers had agreed to support the new Skilled Iowa Initiative. A year later, that number has more than doubled to 157 businesses.

Doug Rempfer, a business service representative with the Davenport office of Iowa Works, said the program has seen an increase in businesses and workers participating in the initiative since last year. Statewide, more than 4,227 employers had joined the initiative last year.

This year, Iowa has 9,216 member business locations.

“They are hungry for any program that is going to get them a higher quality of employee,” Rempfer said.

The goal of the Skilled Iowa Initiative is to help employers find qualified workers, as well as allow individuals to upgrade their skills. Applicants can take three tests to receive National Career Readiness Certificates, with either bronze, silver, gold or platinum classifications.

“There is a skills gap that we’ve known about for a long time,” Rempfer said.

He explained that roughly half of the jobs available require employees with more than a high school education, but less than a college education. Rempfer added that only approximately 20 percent of the workforce fits into this category. The Skilled Iowa Initiative gives employers another tool to recruit workers.

Since the June 2012 announcement of the program, the state has awarded 25,882 NCRC certificates. Rempfer said approximately 20,000 of these certificates were just in the last year or so.

The Skilled Iowa Initiative also offers employees an opportunity for internships with Iowa companies. Last year, 156 businesses and organizations participated in a total of 225 internships. Of the 183 interns, 91 were offered employment.

As the initiative continues to gather momentum, Rempfer is pushing to bring awareness in Jackson County. He said that county is closest to meeting all four metric goals to be classified a “Skilled Iowa Community.”

For more information on the program, contact Rempfer at (563) 455-3200, ext. 43311 or by emailing him at douglas.rempfer@iwd.iowa.gov.

Samantha Pidde can be contacted at samanthapidde@clintonherald.com.