Mission Impossible Podcast

Our mission: to introduce listeners to new opportunities that strengthen Iowa's workforce.

Mission: Employable is a weekly podcast focused on workforce-related topics in Iowa. We will feature conversations with industry professionals about a variety of programs, resources, and training opportunities to help Iowans reach their employment goals . Whether you are an employer looking to expand your workforce, or a job seeker looking for a new career, the podcast has something for everyone!

Tune in every Tuesday for the latest episode: Listen to All Episodes (Available on Apple, Spotify, and Amazon)

Now hosted by Ben Oldach and Kathy Leggett. Produced by the Iowa Workforce Development Communications Bureau.


March 2023

Community health care workers can help bridge the gap when it comes to Iowa’s health care workforce.  Angie Doyle Scar from the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, and Deb Kazmerzak, Program Director at the Iowa Chronic Care Consortium, help define what a community health care worker is, and how they are using a federal grant to train workers in Iowa. 

February 2023

Women only make up 4% of the trades workforce nationally, but Iowa is trying to grow that number. Samantha Groark, Executive Director of Central Iowa Building Trades, joins the show to talk about the upcoming Women in Trades Conference on March 4. Find out what makes events like this one so valuable and hear her pitch to women who are considering a career in this high-demand industry.   

The new year provides new opportunities for Iowans looking for their dream job and we’re here to help!  Listen in as Career Planner Team Lead Jennifer DiOrio shares some of her favorite tips for resume writing, virtual interviews, and more! Find out just how many helpful career resources are available at no cost to you at our IowaWORKS Centers across the state. 

January 2023

Sometimes a second chance is what it takes for someone to jumpstart their career journey.  We sit down with Joseph Johnson, Founder and CEO of Change Course, a new Des Moines-based non-profit that helps those who want to leave addiction, incarceration, or other barriers to employment in their rear-view mirror. Find out why Joseph says this mission is personal to him, and how Change Course is preparing its participants to enter the workforce. 

Employers looking for a fresh start in the New Year can find what they're looking for with our Business Engagement Team. Maria Morales, a Business Engagement Consultant, discusses how Iowa employers can meet with IowaWORKS' team of experts to find hiring and training solutions. Maria also shares how the Business Engagement services are customized for every employer and shares some of the successes she has seen first-hand. 

It’s a new year with new voices on the Mission: Employable Podcast! As we welcome 2023, we also say thank you to host Ryan West, who is handing over the podcast to Ben Oldach and Kathy Leggett. Ben has been with Mission: Employable since the beginning as the producer.  Kathy has been with Iowa Workforce Development for five years leading the Future Ready Iowa initiative and shifting into the new Business Engagement team. They are joining forces to continue the conversation on all things workforce here in Iowa.  

December 2022

As the year comes to an end we want to wish a very special thank you to all of the guests who appeared on the Mission: Employable Podcast. We have some exciting changes planned for 2022 including two new hosts and new workforce success stories! Thanks for being with us this year and we'll see you in January!

November 2022

Iowa needs construction workers and a new training school can make it easier than ever to join the growing career field. Perlla Deluca and Joseph Cichowski, founders of the Iowa School of Construction, talk about how their pilot program will help usher in the newest crop of construction talent in Iowa! 

Bridgestone Firestone is looking to grow their workforce with more than 100 openings ranging from production line workers to salaried employees at their Des Moines location. HR Specialist Trevor Brothers discusses how their company is getting the word out about job opportunities and how recruitment has changed over the years.  

We continue our celebration of National Apprenticeship Week by highlighting one of the most innovative apprenticeships in the nation: the Storm Lake Teacher/Paraeducator program. The program provides an alternative route toward a career in education, especially at a time when the need for teachers is greater than ever. Storm Lake Superintendent Stacey Cole joins the show to explain how the apprenticeship is recruiting and training the teachers of tomorrow.  

We’re celebrating Registered Apprenticeship week by discussing how Mid-American Energy is building their workforce of the future through the Earn and Learn model. Stephen Simmons, Director of Trades and Craft Training, joins us to talk about how their Registered Apprenticeship program has become a huge benefit to their company, and how a brand-new training center is impacting their culture.  

Thinking of hiring a service member who is in the Iowa Guard or Reserve? Home Base Iowa program manager Jathan Chicoine and Becky Coady, State Chair of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, share how their programs have partnered up to help employers reach out to the military members in their communities. 

Interacting with the Veteran community doesn’t always come naturally to most businesses. Thankfully, Iowa Workforce Development is partnering with Psych Armor, a global training platform, to help employers become experts at working with Veterans and their families. We’re joined by Carole Turner, VP of Strategic Communications for Psych Armor, and Jamie Norton, IWD Veterans Workforce Programs Coordinator, to discuss how Psych Armor can help Iowa become a top destination for Veterans and their spouses. 

Transitioning into the civilian workforce after military service can sometimes be challenging for Veterans. Vander Haag’s Human Resources Director Brad DeBoer shares how the trucking company is working with the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge program to help Iowa’s Veterans navigate their transition and train into rewarding careers.  

Iowa Western Community College is partnering with companies in growing sectors like manufacturing and healthcare to provide pathways for young workers to get hired right out of high school. IWCC Executive Director of Economics and Workforce Development, Matt Mancuso, shares how their training programs and employer partnerships help build Iowa’s workforce from the ground up. 

It never hurts to have a little extra help in your career pursuits. Jason Wiegand, Mentoring Program Manager at Volunteer Iowa, talks about a virtual mentorship program that is connecting Iowans across many career fields. Find out how the program is championing partnerships between industry professionals and future workforce talent, as well as one surprising fact about the average age of mentees in the program. 

October 2022

Students at the University of Northern Iowa have great resources to help them enter workforce after graduation. Robert Frederick, Director of Career Services at UNI, shares how his team works with students to plan for their long-term goals, as well as how career education has changed over time.

Building a well-rounded and successful team means hiring people with different backgrounds and experiences. Find out how Kathy Anderson, our new Deputy Director of Business Engagement, is using her wealth of experience to help lead the new division, and why she decided to return to state government.  

Interns can be a valuable part of your company and set a foundation for a future talent pipeline. Learn about creating an internship program from two representatives at St. Anthony Hospital in Carroll, IA, who share their experiences hiring youth from their community. Maybe you’ll be inspired to start an internship program yourself! 

Get a glimpse of our new Business Engagement Division as we continue our 100-day initiative to meet with employers statewide. Tim Goodwin, Business Engagement Division Administrator, walks us through the plans for the new division and how it will serve as a one-stop shop for employers. Find out how we can provide a tailored approach to help businesses with recruitment and retention.  

Apprenticeship programs are becoming more common in industries that may surprise you. Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Mathis joins the show to talk about how she started her own veterinary technician registered apprenticeship program! Find out how she got the unique program off the ground and learn how, with some creativity, almost any industry can develop a registered apprenticeship. 

Iowans who speak English as a second language contribute to our workforce in a variety of career fields across the state. Bilingual Career Planners Diana Rivas and Luis Marquez join the show to talk about all the resources and tools available to Spanish-speaking Iowans. We also discuss how employers can use some of these services to include this population of potential employees in their search for talent.  

September 2022

Helping Iowa businesses thrive is one of the biggest goals of Iowa Workforce Development. We’re continuing our tour around IWD’s new Business Engagement Division with Deputy Director Sherri Behrendt. Find out how the new division is working to engage business leaders across the state and make it easier than ever to hire top talent.  

Youth in Central Iowa will have a new avenue toward an education thanks to local musician and community activist Will Keeps. Learn how Keeps is combining the arts, education, and mentorship with at-risk youth to create opportunities that will set them on the path to success.  

Businesses across Iowa can get all kinds of workforce help through our IowaWORKS offices. We’re highlighting these employer resources with Chris Kula, IowaWORKS Business Engagement Consultant, who shares how he and several of his colleagues work personally with business leaders to achieve their hiring goals. Listen in to find out how business engagement consultants can make a difference in your company today! 

Change is in the air! IowaWORKS is looking to strengthen our relationships with Iowa employers through a new statewide business engagement initiative. Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend talks with us about the first 100 days of the initiative and how business leaders can use IowaWORKS to build their workforce. 

Innovate 120, an entrepreneurship hub based out of Maquoketa, Iowa, is helping young Iowans find internship opportunities with Fortune 500 Companies around the United States. Innovate 120 President and Founder, Robert Abbott, talks to us about Iowa’s entrepreneurial spirit, and why other businesses should consider creating internship programs if they don’t already have them. 

Mission: Employable continues to examine how the healthcare industry is working to fill positions with an ever-growing need for employees.  Dennis Henderson, Broadlawns Teach and Tech Coordinator, talks about one of their programs, which aims to provide at-risk individuals with the skills they need for a successful career in healthcare.  Listen in to find out how they started the Teach and Tech program, and how it continues to evolve. 

August 2022 

Iowa College Aid offers resources that range beyond applying for scholarships and federal aid. Iowa College Aid Director Mark Wiederspan explains how they’re helping not only college students, but also trade students and individuals who join the military. Find out how Iowa College Aid can help you along your future career path no matter which one you choose.

Iowa hospitals are finding innovative ways to fill open positions as the need for more staff continues to grow. We're highlighting a healthcare registered apprenticeship program with Natalie McNaught, Retention Specialist at Unity Point Health, who how it is working to fill the workforce gap of today, while building the healthcare workforce of tomorrow.

 Older Iowans are ready, willing, and able to work. We’re joined by Kyra Hawley, Director of Employment Initiatives at the Department of Aging, to talk about how employers can find the right candidate with vast work experience. Listen in as we explain why if you aren’t considering hiring older Iowans, you’re missing out on a large pool of potential talent.  

School districts are being more creative than ever to get their students ready for their future careers. We’re joined by Dr. Erick Pruitt, Superintendent of the Ankeny School District, to talk about the new ways they are helping students plan ahead. Find out why Pruitt says one of the best things a school can do for students is to get them OUT of the classroom. 

The pandemic has changed how both workers and employers view the workforce, making it more competitive than ever when it comes to hiring talent. Project Iowa Program Manager Gabby Palacios visits the show to talk about the skilled workforce gap and how employers can make inroads with a larger group of potential employees.  

July 2022

Central Iowa Shelter and Services wants to help you find your next employee. We’re joined by Melissa O’Neil, CEO of Central Iowa Shelter and Services who explains how they’re helping Iowa’s homeless population find good paying jobs, and how employers can find an incredible amount of untapped talent.

Council Bluffs is a key hub of business in the state, sharing its border with the Omaha metro. This creates unique business opportunities for Iowans working and living there. We talk with Drew Kamp, CEO of the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce, about everything going on in one of Iowa’s main industrial hubs and we give a little bit of love to THEIR podcast, "Chamber Chat".  

June 2022

From Sioux City to Davenport, there are all kinds of workforce resources in your local community. We’re joined by Krista Tedrow, Executive Director of the South-Central Iowa Workforce Board, to talk about what kind of assistance you can expect to find in your area. Whether you’re a job seeker, or an employer, there’s a service that could fit your workforce needs.  

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is on a mission to continue the economic growth of Iowa’s capital city. We’re joined by the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s President and CEO, Jay Beyers, who breaks down the stats that shows exactly how the city is growing. Find out how the partnership is working to attract talent from outside the state, and how they’re working to help those businesses who are already here.

K-12 students have access to a treasure trove of free online learning content, including some that help connect them to future employers. Craig Mohr, Instructional Designer for the Iowa Area Education Agency, joins us to talk about these free classes. Find out how students are using them to not only expand their education, but also their career prospects. 

What does drone video have to do with bringing more jobs, employees, and customers to Iowa? We’ll let you know on this episode of Mission: Employable! We’re joined by Iowa Economic Development Authority Tourism Manager Amy Zeigler who takes us through their Soul of Iowa campaign.  Find out how those involved in Iowa tourism are working to make Iowa top option for those looking for a change of scenery.  

May 2022

When Veterans prepare to transition out of the military, one of the first questions they ask themselves is usually, “What do I do now”? The Department of Defense Skill Bridge is here to help answer that question and Iowa businesses are already using the program to bring top talent to Iowa. We’re joined by two military Veterans, as well as David Ottavianelli, Director of Strategic Projects and Labor Relations at John Deere, to tell us about a program that allows Veterans to get a head start on civilian employment before they leave the military.

Can we build it!? We already have!  We’re joined by Ben Hammes, director of public affairs for the Master Builders of Iowa, to talk about all the opportunities in the construction industry. From homes to high rises, it’s all here. Find out how high schoolers can break into the construction industry and quickly start earning a paycheck.  

Women are an integral part of Iowa’s workforce. We’re joined by Dawn Oliver Wiand, president and CEO of the Iowa Women’s Foundation to talk about how Iowa can create more employment opportunities for women.  

The workforce of the future are the high school students of today. We’re joined by Knoxville Career and College Readiness coordinator Tyler Pearson who tells us how his school district is leading the charge to help students prepare to enter the workforce. Find out how work-based learning is allowing his students to gain real-world experience and create connections within the business community.  

Sometimes business need support and that’s what the Employers’ Council of Iowa is all about.  We’re joined by ECI President Pamela Wright, who explains how companies can expand their network on the council and how it helps address company and community needs.  

Hay! Farming is a backbone industry in Iowa’s economy, and we need new farmers more than ever. Scott Johnson, Executive Director of the Iowa Future Farmers of America Association, talks about how young Iowans are going to “bale” out the older generation when they decide to hang up their boots. We’ll also hear what makes farming an attractive industry to those who aren’t born into a farming family. Listen in and we promise to stop making farm puns! 

How do you go from serving your country to running your own business?  Our guests from Home Base Iowa, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and the North Central Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) share how Veterans and their family members can navigate the new mission of running a business. Find out how Iowa supports Veterans looking to start their own business as well as one avenue to business ownership that you might not have considered. 

Child care is one of the top needs for working parents and it can be difficult to find. In this episode, our guests from Child Care Resource and Referral of Southeast Iowa highlight resources that can help solve two key areas of Iowa’s child care needs: helping parents find affordable child care, and recruiting the next generation of child care specialists.  

APRIL 2022

Business leaders in Iowa are using work-based learning projects to recruit and train the next generation of talent from local schools. Iowa Association of Business and Industry Program Director Jessi McQuerrey explains how working with your educational partners can bring Iowa’s best and brightest to your doorstep. 

We’re back with DMACC on today’s episode of Mission: Employable. Rob Denson, President of Des Moines Area Community College, shares his unique journey into post-secondary education. Hear the advice he gives to upcoming college students, and how programs like the Last-Dollar Scholarship can provide educational opportunities to those who might not otherwise have the chance. 

Principal, the 5th largest employer in Iowa, is rethinking their hiring practices in a competitive labor market. Jon Couture, Principal Senior Chief Human Resource officer, shares how they are challenging common application requirements to find the right talent for their company.

Community partnerships can help schools introduce students to career pathways even before graduation. Jacque Goodman, Iowa Valley Community School District Vice Chancellor of Education and Training, explains how the school district is working with business partners like Alliant Energy to recruit high school students for a career in the energy sector. 

MARCH 2022

Learning is not a one-size-fits all process for students. Educator Dr. Cynthia Knight joins the show to talk about how school districts can use innovative education models and boost graduation rates. Find out why Knight believes project-based learning is the way of the future and what it means for the growth of Iowa’s workforce.

911 Dispatchers have a crucial role in making sure people get connected to first responders in the community. Rhonda Braudis, 911 Communications Director for Marshall County, talks about her journey into the career field and how she started a training program to recruit the next generation of dispatchers. Braudis shares how state grants helped her start the training program, offering advice on seeking funding opportunities.

Employers can find talented workers by expanding their search to Iowans with disabilities, a group that is often overlooked in the hiring process. Kevin McCloskey, Director of Partnership Development at Disability Solutions, shares how companies can change their hiring practices to include individuals with disabilities. Listen in as we discuss some of the myths surrounding employees with disabilities and hear a key tip for anyone who is about to have a job interview. 

Creating a great workspace starts with hiring the right employees for your company. Matthew Nicol, Senior Talent Acquisition Manager at the HON Company, shares creative ways for expanding their hiring pool to find the right talent. Find out how they’re using a Registered Apprenticeship program to hire, train, and retain skilled employees. 

WOW! We’ve reached 100 Episodes of the Mission: Employable podcast! Host Ryan West and Producer Ben Oldach look back at the last year and talk about the things we’ve learned, guests who made us think, and what we look forward to in the next year. Of course, a massive thank you goes out to our listeners and those who have joined us to help tell the story of Iowa’s workforce opportunities.

Iowa students will soon get a first-hand look at the skilled trades at the upcoming the “Build My Future” event, where they will have a chance to learn about welding, HVAC, masonry, and more! Brandon Patterson, one of the founders of the Skilled Trade Alliance, shares how the interactive event gives students a chance to “try out” different jobs and get a close-up look at each type of career field.  

After 90 years of business, Ruan Transportation is still finding new ways to advance their use of technology and recruit the youngest talent in Iowa. Ruan CIO Dan Greteman explains why the company is using the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning to get high school students involved in their business, and how the students are even teaching him a thing or two! 

The Iowa National Guard offers Iowans the chance to gain valuable on-the-job training while serving their communities.  Join us as we speak with Iowa Army National Guard First Sergeant Jesse Howard about how the National Guard can be a professional stepping stone for Iowans interested in serving their country.

February 2022

Iowa is a major player in the wind energy industry and that means our energy companies need to match their output of electricity with an influx of workforce talent. Alliant Energy Training Specialist Lori Wildman talks about the company’s program that puts high schoolers on the path to a career in the energy industry. Find out how the program works and how you might be able to start a similar program for your company.

Job training programs are reshaping how employers hire and retain workers. State Center Chief of Police Jon Thomas talks about how a state grant helped his department create a reserve police officer training program and recruit new trainees that go on to serve across Iowa. Learn about how the program gives trainees an opportunity to see if law enforcement is the career path for them, and how it can help rural communities find the staff they need. 

Time to hit the books for an apprenticeship history lesson! We’re joined by Registered Apprenticeship (RA) Program Coordinators Kristopher Byam and Mimi Willoughby. They share how Iowa educators and business leaders can take inspiration from the past to create the workforce of the future. You might be surprised to find that RA practices from the 18th century are still in use for many successful RA programs today. 

We’re clearing a path to success with the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning! Project Manager Jake Welchans, Project Coordinator Laura Williams, and area teacher Lindsey Hyman join the show to explain how work-based learning helps kids get workforce-ready across the state. Learn how students are partnering with local businesses to solve real-world problems, all while helping each other succeed. 

Caprice Jones, Director and Founder of the Fountain of Youth Program, makes it his mission to connect with formerly incarcerated Iowans and help them find meaningful work. Find out how Jones’ organization is helping returning citizens break the cycle of generational poverty and find life-changing employment opportunities. 

What happens when a company that is struggling to find staff turns to a consultant who specializes in hiring from a diverse candidate pool? Good things! Reginald McDade, Consultant at Human Capital Strategies & Solutions, shares how his organization assists companies with recruiting and building a talented workforce. 

Get a crash course in the Future Ready Iowa Summer Youth Internship Project Grant. Employers, non-profit groups, and educational institutions are encouraged to apply for the grant, which will fund projects centered on helping local at-risk youth build key workforce skills.

Helping Veterans and their families with their career goals is part of the daily mission for Home Base Iowa (HBI) and IowaWORKS staff. In this episode, we sit down with two Veteran program specialists who are focused on connecting Veterans and their family members with employers looking for top talent in Iowa. Find out how career specialists can help Veterans and Veteran spouses find the perfect fit in a new career.

In 1909, Win Brown of Shenandoah, IA, opened a shoe store in a nine foot-wide space.  Fast forward over 110 years and you can find Brown’s Shoe Fit stores across the Midwest. Kelsi Bouray, Training and Development Director at Brown’s Shoe Fit, tells us how they’re using an entrepreneurship Registered Apprenticeship Program to train the next generation of store owners.   

January 2022

Pi515 is a Des Moines-based organization that is working to empower the future computer science workforce. We sit down with founder Nancy Mwiortsi, who shares her own unique story, which goes from dropping out of tech school to creating an organization that relentlessly advocates for underrepresented populations in the tech field. Find out how Pi515 is helping to develop homegrown talent into the workforce of tomorrow. 

In this episode we dive into the wide world of Career Technical Education (CTE) in Iowa. Dennis Hardin, Bureau Chief of the Department of Education’s CTE division, explains how CTE is training Iowans in high-demand career fields and preparing them with skills to succeed. With over 100,000 high school students  enrolled in at least one CTE course, there is a program for everyone.  

Jump into the time machine and learn about how apprenticeships came to be and why they have been crucial to societies throughout the ages. Registered Apprenticeship Program Coordinators Kristopher Byam and Mimi Willoughby discuss some of the historical influences on the modern earn and learn model such as the practices developed by an ancient African military apprenticeship program and the laws that created apprenticeship programs across many societies. In addition to the historical background, we discuss two Registered Apprenticeship grant opportunities to build and strengthen programs in Iowa. 

We have a special update about the new Iowa Health Careers Registered Apprenticeship program announced during Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ Condition of the State Address. Find out how Registered Apprenticeship programs in the healthcare industry can use this grant to fund innovative ways to teach the next generation of healthcare workers!  Find out more about the grant at www.EarnAndLearnIowa.gov/funding 

Iowa’s returning citizens are rejoining their communities with new job skills in various industries. We speak with Iowa Prison Industries Director Dan Clark to learn how they’re preparing Iowa’s incarcerated population to find meaningful careers after their release. 

Youth Shelter and Services (YSS) has been assisting vulnerable Iowa youth since the 1970s. YSS representatives Mark Core and Kelli Noveshen talk about how they’re helping young Iowans find post-secondary education and land the job of their dreams. 

We are starting the new year in the kitchen with John Andres, Director of Iowa Culinary Institute at Des Moines Area Community College. Learn how a career in the culinary arts can start at any age or experience level, and why the industry is full of opportunities right now. 

December 2021

You’ve heard Ryan thank the podcast team at the end of each Mission: Employable episode, now you get a chance to meet them! Iowa Workforce Development Digital Communications team members Molly Elder, Ben Oldach, and Greg Bargas discuss the production process behind Mission: Employable, from the editing stages to the launch of each episode.  

One of the biggest challenges to starting your own company might be solved by some of the smallest loans you can receive.  In this episode, Kaitlin Byers of Kiva Iowa talks about how Microfinancing can help entrepreneurs and start-up business owners find the resources to turn their dreams into a reality. 

The Mission: Employable podcast heads to Western Iowa to speak with Sarah Martin, a Career Technical Education instructor with the Shenandoah School District. Learn how she makes connections with businesses in her community and how employers can harness the power of young minds in the state. Sarah proves you don’t have to be in a sprawling metro area to introduce students to work-based learning!

At a time when the country needs them the most, new healthcare workers can be hard to come by. We’re joined by Tanya Comer, a former nurse and current Executive Director of Health Tech Associates, who explains how a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training school in West Des Moines is educating the next generation of the healthcare workers. Find out how she was able to continue training CNAs during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and how a Future Ready Iowa grant helped make it happen. 

We’re talking about how employers can expand their talent search and work to employ Iowans with disabilities. Michelle Kreft from Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Service shares how companies can make small changes to their hiring practices and create big time results when it comes to their workforce.  Find out how the experts at Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Service can connect you with a talented pool of potential employees.  

The age of robotics is upon us! Jill Lippincott of the Iowa Economic Development Authority joins us to discuss Advanced Manufacturing 4.0 and how robots, cloud computing, and integrated systems all relate to manufacturing in Iowa. Lippincott helps to dispel the myth that technology will replace jobs and explains how it will instead allow Iowa’s manufacturers to upskill their workforce.

In this episode, we take a look into the not-so-distant future of work-based learning in Iowa. Kristy Volesky, a work-based learning consultant for the Iowa Department of Education, talks about how Iowa’s schools are working to improve their career-learning programs and what it means for future students! 

Join us for this special mini-episode about the Career Academy Incentive Fund grant program. Find out which four Iowa community colleges each received 1 million dollars in grant funding and how it will be used to expand high-demand career training programs across the state! 

The Future Ready Iowa Employer Innovation Fund can help change your company or organization for the better.  Joining us on the show is Amanda Creen, Lakeside Village Community Director, who runs the senior living center in Panora, Iowa. Amanda shares how the Employer Innovation fund paved the way to help her organization train and retain their workers. 

In this episode of Mission: Employable, we sit down with Mak Suceska, Bureau Chief of the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services, to discuss how employers can hire from an often overlooked workforce: Iowa's refugee community.  Suceska recalls his own story as a Bosnian refugee who settled in Iowa and discusses how other members of the refugee community can connect to employment opportunities.  

November 2021

We’re talking about how public transportation has an important role in supporting the workforce. Amanda Wanke, DART (Des Moines Area Regional Transit) Deputy CEO, guides us through all the resources DART has available to riders in the Des Moines area, and how businesses can help solve transportation issues for their workers.  

In this special minisode we get you caught up with the latest edition of the Employer Innovation Fund.  We'll talk about what the grant money is used for, who can apply, and where you can send that application. You can also find out more about the grant at https://www.futurereadyiowa.gov/innovation

Business Marketing Specialist Kate Pine joins the podcast to talk about how she helps connect employers and job seekers to opportunities in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids corridor. Hear the advice she has for employers, including the one thing she says to do now to get more applicants for job openings.

Our celebration of National Apprenticeship Week continues as host Ryan West sits down with Lead Instructor Tim Vassios of the Missouri Valley Line Constructors Apprenticeship and Training Program. Take a deep dive into the program that teaches electrical line workers the tools of the trade. Learn how to get started as a Lineman and how much money you could earn after finishing a Registered Apprenticeship program in the field. For more info about Registered Apprenticeship programs visit: EarnAndLearnIowa.gov

On today’s episode of Mission: Employable, we welcome our new Registered Apprenticeship Coordinator Kristopher Byam to the podcast studio. We talk about Byam’s background as an educator and what the future holds for Registered Apprenticeship programs across the state. Find out more about Registered Apprenticeship opportunities by visiting EarnAndLearnIowa.gov

It’s Veterans Day! As we wrap up our Veterans Week special event, we want to say “thank you” to all our service members, Veterans, and their families for everything they do for us.  On today’s episode we welcome Home Base Iowa Program Manager Gary Sharp to talk about how HBI and the Iowa National Guard work together to serve Iowa’s Veterans.  

Our week-long recognition of Veterans Day continues on Mission: Employable. Join us as we talk with Soldier and Family Readiness Specialist Tara Hellickson and Lieutenant Colonel George Mosby of the Army National Guard. Our guests share how Veterans can better advocate for themselves on resumes and what businesses can do to become a welcoming place for Veterans to work. 

We're honoring Veterans Day all this week with three special episodes about the resources in Iowa geared toward Veterans and their families. On today’s episode, we're speaking with Justin Kent, a DVOP (Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist) from our Waterloo IowaWORKS office. Justin shares how IowaWORKS strives to assist Veterans with disabilities, and how hiring managers can tap into a labor force which can produce A+ employees. 

A Mission: Employable podcast on a Friday? That must mean something big happened! In this special episode, we talk about some of the upcoming resources announced by the Governor’s Child Care Task Force, including a new statewide designation for businesses to become a “Best Place for Working Parents” as well as a $10 million grant to help increase child care availability across the state. 

In this episode, we talk about the workforce resources available to refugee communities across Iowa. Henny Ohr, Director of EMBARC Iowa, explains how program navigators help members of refugee communities overcome barriers to employment and connect with job opportunities. 

IowaWORKS centers across the state are here to help your company find skilled employees. IowaWORKS Business Marketing Specialist Deborah Fox explains how she works directly with local businesses to help them identify their workforce needs, overcome hiring barriers, and recruit new talent. 

Building the workforce of tomorrow starts with innovation in the classroom today. In this episode, Central Campus Director of Career and Technical Education Tascha Brown explains how schools can help students explore their career interests and start making their post-graduation plans. 

October 2021

There are job training programs that help individuals transition out of correctional facilities and back into the workforce. Reentry Coordinator for North Iowa Correctional Facilities Brian Pibal explains how workforce services help build skills and a supportive network for returning citizens looking for job opportunities. 

This episode focuses on Project Iowa, a non-profit organization that offers support and training services to Iowans seeking better careers. Project Iowa volunteer Chris Noth explains some of the ways the organization works with teenagers to connect them with training and mentorship opportunities in the community.  

This episode is all about the perspective of a job seeker here in Iowa. We spoke with Dan Rund to learn about his experiences searching for work and what he hopes to accomplish in his  journey. 

Join the conversation as we highlight St. Vincent de Paul, an organization that has programs to help underserved populations build job skills and find pathways to employment. Executive Director Steve Havemann talks about how St. Vincent de Paul of Des Moines works with the community to help people overcome barriers and connect with new job opportunities.  

This episode is dedicated to the Workforce Roundtables scheduled throughout Iowa this fall. Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend explains how each event opens up discussions about strategies and programs that help employers build their workforce. 

In this episode, we’re exploring how the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Young Adult program helps individuals between the ages of 18-24 earn a career training certification.  Program Navigator Alyssa Czapla and Employment Specialist Ruby Murillo share how a short-term training certificate can be a stepping stone for young Iowans to excel in high-demand careers. 

We’re talking about on-the-job training programs that help returning citizens learn skills for high-demand jobs. Dane Sulentic, Registered Apprenticeship Coordinator for the Department of Corrections, explains how Registered Apprenticeship programs train individuals transitioning out of correctional facilities and prepare them for reentering the workforce. 

This episode is all about the Knight Moves program, which is dedicated to creating pathways into technology careers. Linc Kroeger, Founder and President of Knight Moves, talks about how community partnerships can provide technology training opportunities to underrepresented populations in rural and urban communities.

September 2021

We’re highlighting the Returning Citizens Initiative that helps job seekers who are transitioning out of correctional facilities. Shelley Seitz, Iowa Workforce Development Reentry Coordinator, discusses how reentry services help employers hire, train, and retain employees who are part of the returning citizen population. 

In this episode, learn about the Job Corps, a tuition-free training and education program for students in fast-growing industries. Jillian Flanders, Job Corps Outreach and Admissions Manager, shares how the program teaches students employability skills while getting certified in their chosen job field. 

In this episode, we explore how work-based learning can benefit both workers and employers. Randall McQueeney, Council Bluffs IowaWORKS Operations Manager, shares his journey in work-based learning and explains how businesses can create opportunities for their employees with on-the-job training. 

In this episode, we are talking about economic development in the Sioux City part of the state. Chris McGowan, President of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce, discusses how Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota collaborate on strategies to help businesses recruit skilled workers to the tri-state area.  

We’re highlighting some important resources available to job seekers and employers in Iowa. Linda Rouse, IowaWORKS District Manager, explains how the IowaWORKS staff develop one-on-one relationships with job seekers and businesses to help them find workforce solutions. 

Join the discussion as we focus on innovative ways for employers to recruit and retain skilled workers. Georgia Van Gundy, Hy-Vee Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Customer Officer, highlights strategies for finding talent in a competitive labor market.  

We’re talking about the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) and how the organization stays connected with over 1,500 employer members in Iowa. Iowa ABI President Mike Ralston joins the show and shares strategies for helping employers find workforce solutions. 

August 2021

In this episode, we’re highlighting two programs that incentivize employers to hire hard-to-place job seekers.  IowaWORKS Division Administrator Mike Witt and Iowa Workforce Development Reentry Coordinator Shelley Seitz join us to explain how employers can participate in Federal Bonding and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) programs. 

We’re highlighting an Iowa-based program that helps individuals overcome barriers to employment. Izaah Knox, Executive Director of Urban Dreams, shares how the organization works within communities to help unemployed and underemployed individuals get connected with rewarding employment opportunities. 

Learn about the team that collects and analyzes key workforce data for the entire state. Iowa Workforce Development Labor Market Information Bureau Chief Ryan Murphy shares how the agency presents data about wages, unemployment, labor trends and more.  

In this episode we’re talking about how Iowa’s businesses can grow their workforce by hiring Iowans from all generations.  AARP State Director Brad Anderson talks about the changing demographics of Iowa’s workforce and how communities can support Iowans of all age groups.

Join the conversation as we explore strategies employers can use to hire, train and retain skilled workers. Kyle Roed, Global Human Resources Vice President at CPM Holdings, Inc., discusses how employers can diversify their talent pool and strengthen their workforce.  

We’re talking about how employers can strengthen their organization by opening up opportunities for Iowans with disabilities. Ashlea Lantz, Senior Consultant at Griffin-Hammis Institute, and Joseph Jones, Executive Director of the Harkin Institute, discuss the upcoming Harkin Summit on Disability Employment on August 19, 2021.  

This episode highlights a program that helps Iowans navigate a path to a better quality of life. Jayson Henry, CEO of The Well, shares how the program works with individuals facing barriers and helps them find stable employment.

This episode is all about ways employers can recruit skilled workers in a tight labor market. David Ottavianelli, Director of Strategic Projects and Labor Relations at John Deere, shares strategies for building a local talent pipeline that could help you retain talent within your company.

 In this episode, learn about the Junior Achievement program, which helps students gain real-world experience as early as kindergarten. Junior Achievement president Ryan Osborn talks about how the program uses simulations to help students gain experience with business ownership, finance, and life skills to use beyond the classroom.

July 2021 

We’re highlighting the Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) program to learn how communities and businesses can support students as they start their professional journey after high school. Laurie Phelan, iJAG President and CEO, explains how the program helps empower, develop, and inspire students from diverse communities to become leaders in the workforce. 

This episode focuses on the next generation of working Iowans and how the trades could help them find a high-demand career that sparks their interest. Home Builders of Des Moines Executive Officer Dan Knoup shares how the association does that by connecting Iowans with career training and education opportunities in the construction industry.  

Tune in to part three of our special episode series about the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program. We will hear from CAPS students about how the program helped them find their career interests and a path after high school. 

We’re back for part two of our three-part special on the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program based in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Part two focuses on how the CAPS program keeps business leaders engaged with training the next generation of working Iowans.  

This episode kicks off a special three-part series about the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program here in Iowa. Part one focuses on how CAPS prepares students for professional work environments through projects with local businesses. Program Development Director Nate Clayberg and Program Director Ethan Wiechmann discuss how the program gives students an opportunity to discover their career interests.  

In this episode, we’re highlighting the job resources and services that can help you during your personal journey. IowaWORKS Division Administrator Mike Witt shares how IowaWORKS centers can help you build your resume, search for jobs, and find education and training opportunities to further your career.  

In this episode, we’re discussing how industries are finding innovative ways to adjust to impacts of the pandemic. Ben McLean, the CEO of Ruan Transportation, shares how companies like Ruan are adapting to supply chain challenges and finding new ways to keep operations moving.

We’re hitting the road and talking about how Iowans can get training toward a Certified Drivers License (CDL) and a career in transportation. David Pfiffner, Director of the Transportation Institute at Des Moines Area Community College, explains the options available to train the next generation of drivers across the state.

June 2021

Join the discussion about an Iowa Workforce Development program that helps job seekers find work and learn about unemployment benefits. Elizabeth Waigand, Bureau Chief of Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA), shares how the program assists Iowans with their employment goals.  

Manufacturing jobs have rapidly changed in the last 20 years. Ron DeBord, Vice President of Human Resources at Owen Industries, talks about the positive career projections in this field and how employers can recruit and train the next generation of workers to lead the way in modern manufacturing. 

We’re discussing the benefits of a well-rounded education and how Iowans can achieve their professional goals. Craig Owens, Dean of the John Dee Bright College at Drake University, discusses two new Associate degree programs designed to help students develop leadership and management skills that will help them thrive in a variety of careers.  

We’re talking about the ways that businesses can keep their momentum to get back to normal operations after the pandemic. Iowa Business Council Executive Director Joe Murphy talks about strategies to help businesses adapt to post-pandemic shifts in the way we work.

Learn about the strides in diesel technology careers and what kind of training opportunities are available. Shea Parsons, Professor of Diesel Technology at Des Moines Area Community College, shares his experiences as a mechanic and talks about the growing need for more diesel technicians throughout the state.

Join us for a discussion about Iowa’s community colleges with Dr. Lori Sundberg, the president of Kirkwood Community College. Discover how community colleges help students get the education and training necessary for in-demand careers across the state.

This episode focuses on the collaboration between Mercy College and MercyOne Medical Center. Find out how this partnership is helping to advance healthcare education and recruit more Iowans into the rapidly growing career field. 

This week we’ll learn about the benefits of starting a High School Registered Apprenticeship program.   Guests from West Delaware High School discuss their welding Registered Apprenticeship program and how it creates new opportunities for students ready to enter the workforce. For more information about starting a Registered Apprenticeship program, visit EarnAndLearnIowa.gov.

It’s another Registered Apprenticeship podcast on this episode of “Mission: Employable”. Greer Sisson, the State Director of the U.S. Department of Labor/Office of Apprenticeship, shares how Registered Apprenticeship programs make a big difference in Iowa. Learn about how Registered Apprenticeship programs can build a skilled workforce in our state. 

May 2021

Waukee APEX Director Michelle Hill drops in to talk about how the innovative program is connecting high schoolers, businesses, and communities for next-level education. Learn how the Waukee APEX program is helping the students of today become the workforce of tomorrow.  

“Order up!” Join the discussion about Iowa's restaurant industry with guest Jessica Dunker, President and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. Dunker talks about the pandemic’s impact on the food service industry, and how crucial it is for Iowa’s restaurants to bounce back over the next year. 

In this episode, we are talking about untapped talent in Iowa’s workforce with Dr. Marvin DeJear, Senior Vice President of Talent Development at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Learn about the resources and programs available to help employers build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Join the conversation as we talk about ways to build a more inclusive workforce for Iowans with disabilities. Administrator for Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services David Mitchell discusses key resources and programs that can provide assistance to Iowans with disabilities and connect people with employment opportunities.  

Read the transcript (PDF)

April 2021

On today's episode of Mission: Employable, Registered Apprenticeship Coordinator Amy Beller talks about how registered apprenticeship programs can benefit both employers and job-seekers. There is a Registered Apprenticeship program for just about any career field. Whether you're a business looking to build your talent pipeline or an adult-learner seeking a career change, this podcast is for you! 

In this episode we learn about the motivation behind the STEMBEST initiative from the Executive Director Jeff Weld. The STEM program is a fantastic way for building a talent pipeline in fields that include science, technology, engineering and math. The key is to get kids engaged in these programs at a young age so they can build Iowa's future ready workforce! 

Don't miss this special entrepreneurial episode where Iowa's very own Christian Gray shares how AXIS-U uses an "earn and learn" training model to develop skilled workers. Christian’s passion for helping employers and job seekers alike is changing the landscape of career training and employee recruitment in Iowa.  Jump in and get the scoop on how AXIS-U can help you today! 

Learn about what the Future Ready Iowa initiative is and its goal to strengthen Iowa's workforce for years to come. Future Ready Iowa Policy Advisor Kathy Leggett talks about the innovative initiative and how it is already creating new opportunities for Iowans. Whether you are an employer, educator, adult learner or a recent graduate, there is a Future Ready Iowa program for you!  

In today’s episode, we talk about how the Home Base Iowa program is poised to attract Veterans and returning service members to the state of Iowa. We’ll hear from the Home Base Iowa Coordinators Jathan Chicoine and Gary Sharpe, who give you the scoop on all the awesome opportunities that are available to Veterans, returning service members, and their families! 

In this episode, the President of the Technology Association of Iowa, Brian Waller breaks down some of the fantastic initiatives that are going on around the state technology wise. As you will hear, technology is much larger and in many more organizations than one may think. Don’t shy away from the tech innovation that Iowa offers. Tune in and get plugged in to some wonderful opportunities!

Don't miss a great episode where Executive Director Aaron Horn lays out all the of great opportunities that NewBoCo offers. Located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, NewBoCo is positioned to help Iowa decrease the skills gap in information technology coding. Tune in and find out how you can acquire the skills to shape the state for years to come!

This week we're talking about how Iowans can find the right tools and resources to find their dream job. IowaWORKS Division Administrator Mike Witt talks about how American Job Centers across the state can help job seekers and employers connect with great opportunities.

Join us for a special episode to celebrate baseball season's opening day with Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg and Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend. They will share their thoughts on the upcoming season and how it helps kick off springtime openings for Iowa's businesses.

March 2021


This week, Director Debi Durham joins us for a discussion about Iowa’s positive workforce forecast. Director Durham oversees the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority. Both agencies play important roles in helping Iowa foster innovation and unique workforce opportunities across the state.

Join the leader of Iowa Workforce Development for a discussion on all things workforce opportunity in the State of Iowa. In this episode, Director Beth Townsend highlights statewide initiatives as we come out of the pandemic. Director Townsend is a veteran of the United States Air Force and she talks about the awesome opportunities that are available for returning service members and veterans in the State of Iowa. Don't miss it!

Don't miss episode two of the Mission: Employable podcast where Iowa Lt. Governor Adam Gregg talks about the advantages that Iowa has to offer. The Lt. Governor is involved with some fantastic initiatives around the state, that lend well to us coming out of the pandemic.

In this first Mission: Employable episode, hear Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds lay out her vision for Iowa as we come out of the pandemic. Adversity creates opportunity and the Governor's vision for Iowa's workforce is very positive. Join us and discover your future career path!