Skilled trade programs are coming back with help from businesses and trade unions stepping up to provide time, equipment, and money for school programs.
Zachary Hageman used to be unsure of his future. Now the North High School graduate is gaining experience in an entry level position, a cleanup crew for a construction crew in a downtown luxury apartment building in Des Moines. The program is designed to give hands-on experience to recent graduates and high school students.
Now Zachary plans to become an electrician. Experienced electricians in Iowa average $30 an hour or more, according to the Iowa Wage Report 2016.
"I know what I want to be doing," Hageman said. In construction, "you've done something that you can be proud of."
Over half of all jobs in Iowa are for middle-skilled workers, but only one third of Iowa workers can fill those positions. There is a skills gap spanning multiple industries, according to a 2015 Iowa Workforce Development report. The hope is that teens will enter the middle skills jobs, which require additional training after high school graduation, but less than a college degree.
"We see help wanted signs out there all the time," said Dan Knoup, executive officer of the Greater Des Moines Home Builders Association. "The jobs are out there. The careers are available."