News Archive

Entries in Workplace Learning Connection (7)


Workforce Development a top issue in 2018

2018 is shaping up to be a growth year in Washington County and the CR/IC Corridor, but also a challenging one for workforce and talent attraction.

Washington County's laborforce has been gradually growing over the years, and flexes between 12,600 and 12,900. But unemployment is just 2.1% or about 300 people, only 145 of which are drawing unemployment benefits.

Updated Laborshed Occupational Wage Data 

Back in January 2016, Iowa Workforce Development's Labor Market Information bureau published our Washington County Laborshed Analysis. Periodically, they have provided occupational wage updates for our Laborshed area. This is great data that gives a window into wage trends.

Washington Laborshed Sector Wage Reports, 2017 Q4

Wage data provided is customized to the Washington County Laborshed area which represents the following counties: Henry, Iowa, Jefferson, Johnson, Keokuk, Louisa, Muscatine, Wapello, and Washington. 

Workforce Development Strategies

In November, WEDG hosted a Workforce Development meeting and over 35 employers from around greater Washington County. A number of initiatives and opportunities for employers were presented.

Workplace Learning Connection

Job shadows, internships, workplace tours, literacy fairs, and employer engagement are what Kirkwood's Workplace Learning Connection is coordinating for k-12 students in Washington County (and their 7 County region).
Education is reaching out to employers to connect with students and teachers. Be sure you are reaching out too in 2018.
Check out the WLC's slide deck. Is your company on the list of partners for 2016-17?
Click here if you’d like to sign up to be a Partner or Volunteer with the WLC! Connecting students with employers and careers!


Iowa Registered Apprenticeships

IWD/IowaWORKS can help with sample Registered Apprenticeship plans that you can customize. Think your business isn’t a likely to be a “fit” for apprenticeships? Think again. "New industries are offering opportunities including: information technology, financial services, healthcare, transportation, energy, advanced manufacturing, and hospitality. A Registered Apprenticeship is an appropriate option for all job seekers including women, minorities, youth, people with disabilities, and veterans." IowaWORKS' Kate Pine is a great contact.

Here is Kate Pine’s slide deck and a fact sheet on the program:

Home Base Iowa

Mace Huffman (, m. 319-423-2809) spoke about the retooled Home Base Iowa program that allows participating Employers to search through Veterans resumes, as well as posting jobs for Veterans to find. Is there a good reason that your company is NOT participating in this initiative?

Home Base Iowa web site:


ESGR Statement of Support for Guard & Reserve

Employers were encouraged to sign up on-line for a statement of Support as an employer that works to accommodate employees serving in the National Guard and Reserves.

If you’d like to sign up on-line with an employer Statement of Support for working with employees and families serving in the National Guard and Reserves, go to:
Here is a ESGR Fact Sheet on the Statement of Support program:


Executive Industry Interviews

I try to annually many industry leaders from greater Washington County. Serving our existing business and industry base is a top priority for WEDG.

In January, I'll be reaching out for appointments with 30+ industry executives to get their thoughts and insights into their business and the area community business environment. 



Workforce Development luncheon Nov 15

Washington County's unemployment rate this Fall is 2.6%. The laborforce has expanded to 12,800+ with only 300 unemployed people. Only 91 people are drawing unemployment benefits. Job postings are up here and around Southeast Iowa. What is an Employer to do?

WEDG is hosting an annual Workforce Development meeting from 11:30-1:30, Wednesday November 15th with a full agenda of information and updates for Employers in Washington County and the southern end of the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor.

The free long-lunch meeting will be at the Washington County Fairgrounds, Dallmeyer Hall, and will include lunch and great networking. We only have a meeting like this once every year or two, so please attend!

 Workplace Learning Connection update

Judy Marshall, Business Coordinator from Kirkwood Workplace Learning Connection, will discuss partnership opportunities for businesses through WLC programming and highlight current collaborations in Washington County. Programming such as Job Shadows, Internships, Work-Site Tours, Career Speakers, and Teacher @ Work experiences for schools, will be discussed as we help in building Iowa’s workforce of tomorrow.

Home Base Iowa v.2 update

 Mace Huffman will talk about his role as a Veterans Representative, and the Home Base Iowa program; both from an employer perspective and job seeker (veteran). Mace will review the HBI website and provide an overview to the HBI program and how you can become an HBI employer/HBI community. (You should be doing this.)

Iowa Apprenticeship info

Kate Pine from IowaWORKS - Registered Apprenticeship Programs are a proven solution for recruiting, training and retaining world-class talent. Registered Apprenticeship Programs can be customized to meet the needs of business and the skills of Registered Apprentices. Kate Pine, Business Marketing Specialist from IowaWORKS, will present examples of effective Registered Apprenticeship programs and details on creating your own program.

Laborshed Wage & Employment data update

In early 2016, IWD finished up a local and regional Laborshed Analysis, and has updated the wage and employment data once. We'll have current, late 2017, wage and employment data for the County, Laborshed region, and by employment sector. This is great info about current wages for hundreds of job categories.

Kirkwood Community College

Get an update on Washington Regional Center's upcoming employer-student events, Career pathways, sector boards, academic program advisory councils, and more.

Kirkwood is also hosting a $50 workshop, Recruit. Retain. Develop. - Strengthening the Talent Supply Chain, on Dec. 7 from 10-Noon in Cedar Rapids after the CBJ Workforce Awards, .  

We are looking forward to having you attend this meeting! See you on the 15th.



Workforce Development hits home for Employers

We had a great turnout last week for WEDG's Workforce Development meeting for Washington County area employers. There were 50+ that attended, including leaders from are business, government, and non-profit organizations.

We put together a short but thorough survey to help get some feedback from the meeting. Employers that attended or that would have liked to attend are welcome to take 10 minutes to provide feedback. Click here to take our survey.

Here is an overview of the topics or organizations we covered in 2 hours:


WLC connects students and educators from Grant Wood AEA Area X school districts in Cedar, Benton, Iowa, Jones, Linn, Johnson and Washington Counties in east central Iowa looking for career information with area business professionals who are interested in preparing our region's future employees.

WLC coordinates job shadows, internships, career exploration field days, financial literacy events, and even thoughtful events for elementary school students.

Follow the WLC on Facebook too.

Rochelle Sowers is the contact for Washington County. (319) 887-3651,


Home Base Iowa is a new Iowa initiative to help veterans (from all over) find jobs, explore career paths, and make a smooth transition to civilian life in Iowa. Employers can sign up to participate on the HBI web site. Employers can also post jobs on the site. You can check out the current jobs postings at

The program director is Kathy Anderson, (515) 822-8951,

Follow HBI on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


SKILLED IOWA initiative

Skilled Iowa is an Iowa initiative that incorporates the WorkKeys® assessment system. WorkKeys® was developed by ACT® to measure individual worker’s skills in the areas of applied mathematics, reading for information and locating information. The idea is to have many people take the assessment, and pair that with employers that want to use this informative tool to assist in the hiring or advancement process.

Washington County is a certified "Work Ready Community." Not that many places have met all the metrics, but a lot of people in Washington County have taken the Skilled Iowa assessment. Now we just need more employers to actually request and use the info from job seekers when they hire!

IWD's Scott Mather is the key contact in our region for Skilled Iowa. (319) 365-9474,



The Kirkwood Washington Regional Center is about to move in to a new 36,000 s.f. high tech facility in Washington. High school students from 6 area school districts will attend during the day to take duel-enrollment courses in a wide variety of career accedemies. It will also be the center for Kirkwood college students.

This is a great career training center that is a huge link between students and careers.

Tera Pickens is the Washington center director. (319) 653-4655,

Follow them on FaceBook, Twitter, and on their blog.



DaLayne Williamson of the Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) has been spearheading an initiative to have business and industry consider new ways of managing an innovative business. Rather than a traditional leadership model where decisions are made top-down, TEAM Centered Workplaces allow for greater collaboration and employee autonomy, through Trust, Enjoyment, Accountability and Managing the Whole Person.

 Contact DaLayne Williamson at (319) 351-1137,



Kirkwood Training and Outreach Services (KTOS) has a number of professional development classes that they offer in Linn County annually. Last year, KTOS started to offer some of those classes at the nearby Johnson County ISU Extension Building at the Fairgrounds.

These excellent and affordable program offerings are an excellent, and now nearby way to offer excellent training opportunities to your business leadership.

Kirkwood also coordinates a regional Advanced Manufacturing Sector Board that has done a lot of planning and consideration of how Kirkwood and its partners can promote manufacturing and skills acquisition to help staff manufacturers with the talent they need.

Danielle Allen is the key contact at (319) 398-5888,

Follow them on FaceBook too.



For over twenty years, the Chamber is proud to host Leadership Washington, a nine session program designed to educate civic-minded individuals about current issues and concerns which face the Washington Area.

This is a great way for business leaders to learn more about how Washington and Washington County works, but also to develop great networking circles.

Contact Michelle Redlinger for more information at (319) 653-3272,



Whether or not you attended our Workforce Develoment meeting last week, if you are an employer, we would appreciate it if you decided to complete our survey. Thanks. It will really help us to know how and about what to communicate with you in the upcoming year.



How about hosting H.S. students for job shadows?

Several high school students from Washington County explored a career of their choice through Kirkwood's Workplace Learning Connection (WLC) job shadow program during the Fall of 2013.  The career field of Engineering is always a popular request for teenagers and this school year is no different. 

CIVCO Medical Solutions in Kalona hosted several area students for a Biomedical Engineering group job shadow.

WLC is looking for business people in Washington County to host one-day, couple-of-hours job shadow experiences for Washington County high school students. 

If you are interested in being involved in preparing the next generation to enter and succeed in the world of work, go to WLC’s Partnership Opportunity website to get started!  

MOCK INTERVIEWS - FEB 4th and 11th

The Workplace Learning Connection is also coordinating Mock Interviews for Washington High School students on Tuesday, February 4th from 9-11am at W.H.S. If you would like to volunteer to help students to   Contact Stephanie Olney at (319) 887-3647 or to volunteer. There are a few spaces left to help out.

WLC is also coordinating Mock Interviews at Highland High School on February 11th, but they have all the volunteers they need...

The school districts around Washington County have taken great strides in the last several years to reach out to employers to partner on workforce development. Please reach back by volunteering and helping these young students.

Kirkwood's Workplace Learning Connection also coordinates other events to connect k-12 students with employers in career exploration, job shadows, internships, financial literacy (April 3, Wellman Parkside Activites Center), and more.


Workplace Learning Connection impacts Washington County

The 2012-2013 school year has been a successful one for Kirkwood's Workplace Learning Connection and Washington County businesses, organizations and schools working together to connect today’s students to tomorrow’s careers.

Washington County boasts the participation of over 128 businesses and 194 current and past volunteers who have supported young people and their teachers in a variety of work-based learning opportunities ranging from STEM Events and Financial Literacy Fairs to middle school business site tours and job shadows for high school students. 

The work of building our future workforce belongs to all of us.  If your business or organization is interested in participating in the programs of Workplace Learning Connection and engaging in work-based learning,  please check out their Partnership Opportunities page for more information on how you can get involved.

Thank you to the fantastic partners in Washington County for your support and commitment to build a bridge between school and the workplace.

The role and partnership opportunities for the Workplace Learning Connection will only grow when the Kirkwood Regional Education Center opens in Washington in August, 2014.