Iowa governor Kim Reynolds applauded registered apprenticeships at Van Wall Equipment (2016 Farm Equipment Dealership of the Year) in Nevada to get state support to help develop a training program for technicians. Apprenticeships in Iowa are performing better than other states, Reynolds claims. “It makes sense that registered apprenticeships have been so successful here because they are the quintessential win-win, and as Iowans, we always recognize a good deal,” Reynolds told Iowa Public Radio.
Business leaders claim Iowa has a shortage of skilled workers; thus, the unemployment rate has plateaued at about 2.5%, which is limiting growth. A grant of $1 million was approved by lawmakers for smaller businesses to advance apprenticeships.
Mike Van Houweling, Van Wall Equipment CEO, told Iowa Public Radio the apprenticeship program is important for growing his business, “We have a real need to continue to add skilled technicians to our team. In fact, today, if we could add 40 to 50 technicians, we would do it in a heartbeat. That’s a big number that’s very important to our business.”
Kenyon O’Brien, a Van Wall Equipment apprentice and student, says, “I don’t have to worry about paying for school anymore, or worrying about a job. That was all taken care of with this Van Wall apprenticeship program. So now I just focus on school and getting through it.” There are more than 7,600 registered apprentices in Iowa.
Reynolds encourages students, schools and businesses to get involved in apprenticeships. She is looking to expand Iowa’s workforce by inviting representatives to the Mitchellville women’s prison to educate them about the hiring criminals.
“We need workers,” Reynolds told Iowa Public Radio. “And so [employers] are willing to look, and to take a chance and to do things differently. So, it really is a good time to work together with business and industry and see how we can make it a win-win for everybody.”
Iowa Public Radio reports that Reynolds’ new committee will train previously incarcerated Iowans to get jobs because it is harder to find a job post-prison. Her goal is for her employers to learn the barriers previously incarcerated individuals face and how to address the concerns they may have about hiring such people.