Building a More Skilled Iowa

By Emily Forrester, SPHR, Vice President, Human Resources, Iowa Bankers Association

Emily Forrester

Emily Forrester

How many times have you filled an open position at your bank, and then come to find out that the employee you hired just doesn’t have the skills that you need for the role?  Whether over-qualified or under-qualified, hiring situations like this can be difficult and frustrating for everyone involved.

In 2012, Governor Branstad launched an initiative called Skilled Iowa as a public/private partnership to help better match Iowa workers with unfilled positions across the state.  Iowa’s unemployment rate is currently 4.7%, despite the diverse array of career fields available that provide employment opportunities. There are plenty of workers available, and there are plenty of jobs available.  The problem is finding the right worker for the right job.  The Skilled Iowa initiative provides employers with additional tools to identify workers with the correct essential skills to help fill their open positions – bridging this workforce readiness gap.

Skilled Iowa encourages workers to earn the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), a certificate that demonstrates knowledge and skills in several workplace areas including reading for comprehension, applied mathematics, and locating information.  Workers’ scores are then classified into four different score ratings — platinum, gold, silver and bronze — which are useful for employers looking for a worker with the correct skill set to fill an opening.

Upon completion of the NCRC, workers can showcase their skills and capabilities in an easy to understand method for employers to evaluate.  They can then also work with the Iowa Workforce Development office to identify additional training and development resources available to them to help improve or expand their skill sets as needed.

Businesses across the state, including Iowa Bankers Association and many of it’s member banks, are taking advantage of the NCRC when hiring employees, with over 700 companies across Iowa recommending the certificate to job seekers.  Businesses benefit from this by finding verifiably qualified candidates more easily, reducing training costs, and increasing on-the-job productivity.

Communities that support and participate in the Skilled Iowa initiative can positively impact their local economy by building a more talented workforce to fill current and future jobs, and having a talented workforce available will attract economic growth opportunities.

With a more skilled workforce, Iowa will become an increasingly attractive place to do business. Iowa Workforce Development is urging community and business leaders, educators, workers, and employers to be a part of the Skilled Iowa Initiative’s effort to grow Iowa’s economy.  Iowa Bankers Association encourages you to visit with your local Iowa Workforce Development office to learn more about this program, sign up as an employer supporter, and to start seeking NCRC certified candidates today!

For more information, visit

Emily Forrester, SPHR, is the vice president of human resources at Iowa Bankers Association and can be reached at 515-286-4312.


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