Walmart Foundation Grant Gives Iowa Women Chance to try Construction, with the Goal of a Job and Higher Pay

July 12, 2016
Contact: Courtney Greene

Walmart Foundation Grant Gives Iowa Women Chance to try Construction, with the Goal of a Job and Higher Pay

Des Moines, IOWA — Iowa Workforce Development, IowaWORKS and Hawkeye Community College are using a Walmart Foundation Grant in the amount of $75,000 to introduce low-income Iowa women to jobs in construction. According to the latest PROMISE JOBS Employment and Wage Report, construction is the second highest paying industry for men engaged in the PROMISE JOBS* program. However, a demographic breakdown, by gender, of individuals working in this occupation indicates that females represent only 2.3 percent of the workforce. Data also indicates this is an industry showing growth in projected openings and wages. Specifically for Heavy Equipment Operators, the average hourly wage in Central Iowa is $23.48 per hour.
The grant covers the costs of bringing a specialized Hawkeye Community College construction equipment simulator/trailer along with a general instructor and assistant to each of Iowa's 15 IowaWORKS offices in 2016. The trailer is at IowaWORKS Region 11 at 430 E. Grand Ave, July 11-15, 2016. The simulator is part of the Six Step Workshops** to allow women in the PROMISE JOBS program the opportunity to learn about non-traditional construction jobs and experience hands-on construction equipment operation simulation.
The grant gives low-income women with families the opportunity to receive hands-on experience, labor market and general information on non-traditional occupations (NTOs) in Construction Trades which will move them quickly into higher paying jobs, thus decreasing their need to access welfare supports and other human services programs.
IWD Director Beth Townsend praised the public/private partnership, and said this initiative is an important step toward addressing Iowa’s skills gap. “This is a great opportunity for women to learn about good paying, available jobs in the construction industry,” said Director Townsend. “We encourage interested women to try their hand at operating heavy machinery in a safe environment. This program is not only a gateway to increasing the number of women in the construction field, but also a pathway to a challenging, good paying and sustainable career for women.”
Iowans operating the construction equipment simulator learned the controls, gauges and equipment systems in a safe, in-cab environment with professional supervision. Instructors answer questions and provide different environments in which students may operate equipment. Some of the scenarios include: Backhoe, Forklift, Excavator, Wheel Loader and various lifts. This opportunity is open to the general public. 


Iowa's cash assistance program under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant is the Family Investment Program (FIP).  The PROMISE JOBS program provides work and training services to FIP participants.  DHS contracts with Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) to provide PROMoting Independence and Self-sufficiency through Employment, Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (PROMISE JOBS) services for most FIP participants.  DHS's Bureau of Refugee Services (BRS) provides PROMISE JOBS services to refugees on FIP who are not U.S. citizens and who are not English proficient.   Both FIP and PROMISE JOBS are funded with federal TANF Funds under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act and state general funds that are used to meet TANF Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirements.
** 6 Steps to Successful Career Transition: How to Get a Job in a Tough Economy Workshops
Step 1: Maintain a Positive Attitude- Recognize how perspective and attitude can negatively or positively impact the results of job search, internship or employment efforts.
Step 2: Develop Career Plan- Build short- and long-term career plans based on skills and interest assessments.
Step 3: Research Industry Trends- Explore online websites for current information on employment trends, occupational requirements and opportunities for training and education to enhance skills.
Step 4: Create Great Resume- One of the key skills to obtain a job is to develop resumes and cover letters targeted work experience identified in Steps 2 and 3 of the program.
Step 5: Conduct Job Search- Learn how to cultivate uniqueness, capitalize on education, skills, and interests to target opportunities in the job market. Learn effective networking strategies to research and explore the "hidden job market."
Step 6: Interview and Negotiate- Practice effective strategies to promote experience, education, and accomplishments and answer difficult interview questions.