Today’s Iowa Labor Market
Gone are the days when a multitude of jobs were available that required workers to perform simple manual tasks. Individuals in today’s workplaces need a wide array of skills in order to meet the needs of the modern workplace. The introduction of technology, particularly the use of computers, has changed the way that workers perform their tasks. During the job application and interview process, employers look for applicants with two skill sets:  soft and hard skills.

Soft Skills
Soft skills is a term often associated with a person’s personality traits, social graces, communication,  language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people. Soft skillsCo-workers having a discussion complement hard skills and are related to feelings, emotions, insights and they provide an important complement to ‘hard skills’ and IQ. Soft skills are typically developed through employment, internships, job shadowing, classroom instruction, or workplace simulation.  CIW can help job seekers develop soft skills.

Hard Skills
They represent the minimum skills necessary to do a job and one learns through training and schooling. In any career path or business one chooses, hard skills are always needed. Examples of hard skills include job skills like typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs.

Since hard skills are easy to measure, you need them in order to pass tests, both in school and in your line of work. In fact, exams and grade point averages in both high school and college generally show students’ hard skills.

Formal Education Programs
Central Iowa Work works closely with Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) to offer short-term certificate programs. Employers / businesses are instrumental in creating the curriculums for these certificates. For example, CIW worked closely with employers to create the Health Care Support Technician Certificate course which is a 68-hour short term certificate program for those who want to work in the healthcare, non-patient facing support roles. Instructors teach participants job roles and responsibilities for four jobs within healthcare, including: laundry / linen, food / nutrition, housekeeping, and patient transport.  Students must complete an eight-hour clinical experience to successfully complete the certificate.

In the Energy / Construction sector, employees are trained through apprenticeships. This differs from other 04training opportunities because it is an “earn as you learn” model – the employee is hired and then is trained on the job while they are working. Potential employees apply for a job through their local union office. If they meet the hiring criteria, their name will be added to a list of potential applicants. The unions then train people in order of application – usually in cohorts of 10-20 at a time. A new employee might work for three weeks, and then attend training for a week. Each time they attend a new training they become eligible for higher levels of employment. This process takes four to five years to move from apprentice to journeyperson status. CIW fits into this program by helping to fund additional trainings for upcoming projects and by recruiting program participants. Because of its success, CIW is considering expanding the “earn as you learn” model to other sectors, as well.

Project Iowa
Project IOWA prepares participants for the real world jobs of today’s economy. The training provided combines the “hard” skill training that employers require with the “soft” skill development that is needed forNelson Manley and Doug Wells Project IOWA grad and Julie F at graduation Sept 2012 participants to experience long term success as employees. This training involves significant commitments of time, dedication and skill from the participants. It works when the participants graduate with the confidence, character and skills to be great employees. The mission of Project Iowa is to serve as a bridge between underemployed persons seeking living wage careers and employers seeking workers, thereby transforming lives and benefitting communities. Learn more at

For more information on educational programs or training opportunities either administrated by or facilitated through Central Iowa Works, email or contact us at (515) 720-0969 today.