Branstad, Reynolds celebrate success of Skilled Iowa Initiative

Plan to prepare working Iowans for careers in demand has certified 45,000 individuals through National Career Readiness Certificate

DES MOINES – Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds on April 9 were joined by Iowa Workforce Development director Teresa Wahlert at the administration’s weekly press conference as they celebrated the successes of the Skilled Iowa Initiative, two years after its launch in June 2012. The Skilled Iowa Initiative has had impacts across every county in Iowa, far greater than originally imagined.  To date, more than 10,000 Iowa businesses have signed on in support of the initiative and over 45,000 Iowans have certified their skill sets through the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). 

“Skilled Iowa has made tremendous strides across the state, realizing success in areas beyond the traditional workforce, which is positioning Iowa – and hardworking Iowans – for continued success for years to come,” said Branstad. “The Skilled Iowa Initiative is helping Iowa businesses identify capable and qualified employees, and giving working Iowans an opportunity to demonstrate the extent of their skillset with a recognized accomplishment – the National Career Readiness Certificate.”

One of the cornerstones of the Skilled Iowa Initiative is the internship program, a unique opportunity that connects unemployed Iowans with training opportunities at Iowa businesses.  The individuals receive a new transferrable skill through an internship that provides on-the-job training in conjunction with basic skill development all while maintaining unemployment benefits.  To date, over 300 unique internship opportunities have been utilized by unemployed Iowans and those receiving public assistance.  Fifty-five percent of the internships have resulted in offers of fulltime permanent job opportunities.

“With $8.8 billion in private capital investment coming to Iowa since 2011, Governor Branstad and I knew there would be tremendous opportunities for working Iowans to apply their unique skillsets in high-quality careers,” said Reynolds. “The innovative Skilled Iowa Initiative helps workers prepare to fill the jobs that are being created all across Iowa.”

“The Skilled Iowa Initiative is a perfect demonstration of working together to improve the Iowa economy without concern for politics,” stated Bill Knapp, who helped launch the initiative in 2012.  “Governor Branstad and Director Wahlert through Skilled Iowa, and especially the internship portion, have done much to achieve success for the initiative.”

The Skilled Iowa Initiative targeted the future workforce during the second year.  The goal was to connect high school students with growing high-tech, high-demand occupations in Iowa.  To date, over 7,000 Iowa high school students have taken the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) assessment, and several students achieved the platinum status.  They join the less than three hundred Iowans who have attained platinum.

“Our students are critical to tomorrow’s workforce,” stated Wahlert.  “By embedding the work critical skills of applied mathematics, reading for information and locating information into the high schools, our students are receiving a sound platform to begin further education and employment.”

The Skilled Iowa Initiative strives to create Skilled Iowa Communities across the state.  Des Moines County was the first area to become a Skilled Iowa Community and was quickly followed by others across the state.  To date, the Skilled Iowa Community designation has also been given to Union County, Ringgold County, Adams County, Jones County, Monona County, Lucas County, Keokuk County, Washington County and the City of Onawa.  In order to become a Skilled Iowa Community, the area must meet the following metrics: 10 percent of the employers covering at least 20 percent of the areas employment must be Skilled Iowa Members, 5 percent of the current labor force has to achieve the NCRC certification, and 20 percent of the transitioning labor force must receive the NCRC certification.

The Skilled Iowa Initiative has gained national attention for its success from the National Governor’s Association and other states looking to implement a similar program.  For more information on the Skilled Iowa Initiative, visit

Print or share article:Print this page
Email this to someone
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on Facebook