The voices may be different, but the mission for IWD’s Mission: Employable podcast remains the same – educating Iowans about all the valuable resources and innovative ideas out there for connecting employers with skilled Iowa workers.
“We’re definitely having fun with it,” said Kathy Leggett, who joined Ben Oldach as co-host of the podcast in January. “I would like for people every time they listen to take at least one thing away that is useful to them.”
IWD Deputy Director Ryan West launched the Mission: Employable podcast roughly two years ago to give Iowans a broader window into the world of workforce. It quickly became the gold standard for government podcasts involving any aspect of workforce.
Oldach and Leggett took over at the beginning of 2023, more than 150 episodes and 35,000 downloads later, after increased administrative duties pulled West away from the microphone.
“The best thing about this type of podcast is that it is universal in terms of helping Iowans or even enticing folks to move to Iowa,” West said. “There is no shortage of topics to help businesses and job seekers get connected with opportunities and ideas. Ben and Kathy are doing a fantastic job of taking the show to the next level.”
“I think we’re finding a groove,” Leggett said. “It’s a completely new and different experience for me.”
For Oldach, who spends most of his time at Iowa Workforce Development focused on video and social media production, the new hosting duties provide an opportunity to step out front once more. Oldach came to IWD after rough six years in broadcast journalism, including three as a TV reporter in Des Moines.
“One of the things that I really enjoyed in news was being someone that people could go to for trusted information,” he said. “The fact that they trusted me to do this kind of work at IWD and be more of a front-facing part of the agency was kind of an honor for me.”
Leggett is new to media production but a veteran at conversing with Iowa business and government leaders. She joined state government after two decades as Director of the Center for Advocacy and Outreach at Blank Children’s Hospital and has spent the last five years working with businesses through the Future Ready Iowa program and IWD’s new Business Engagement Division.
Together, with help from podcast producer Molly Elder, Oldach and Leggett hope to continue showcasing a wide variety of success stories and best practices for dealing with workforce challenges in Iowa. Among other things, episodes so far this year have featured efforts to help formerly incarcerated individuals succeed in the workplace and to increase Iowa’s percentage of women working in building trades.
Leggett and Oldach say they want Mission: Employable to continue helping employers think differently about recruitment and retention. They see it as an important platform to promote Iowa firms who are doing innovative things – as well as all the options that you can find through IWD.
“One goal of this is to help people perceive Iowa Workforce Development as not just the unemployment agency,” Oldach said. “We’re a lot more than that.”
To listen to Mission: Employable, visit IWD’s podcast page or download it from Apple, Spotify, or Amazon.