The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

February 5, 2013

Test can help boost your pay

Skilled Iowa program focuses on increasing ‘middle-skilled” workers

OTTUMWA — Hopeful job applicants can say they have the right stuff to do a job, but it’s hard to actually prove. The Skilled Iowa program could change that.

“The governor asked us to think about how we could train these people to fill those middle-skill jobs,” said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development.

She told the Courier during a recent interview that the state has partnered with the ACT company known for the college-entry exams it gives. They are administering a test to see if workers can earn a National Career Readiness Certificate.

Wahlert said there are some skills that nearly all employers want to see. With Skilled Iowa, potential workers will have already taken the National Career Readiness test showing they can either do a job or are smart enough to learn the job.

One of the keys to the test is the self-training module, which can help the job candidate learn the math or reading skills needed to do well — on the test and on the job.

This is a test that can be studied for ahead of time. Study either on the computer at home or at various Iowa Workforce Development sites, the director said.  

Taking the test is done in person, however, with a test monitor present.

There are few Iowa jobs which require no qualifications.

“We have a lot of ‘low-skill’ [level] people but not a lot of low-skilled jobs,” said Wahlert.

In fact, she said, roughly 40 percent of workers are currently at a low-skill level. Yet only about 20 percent of the jobs in this state are low-skill jobs. There are more people, about twice as many, as there are jobs.

That’s one of the reasons for a combination of relatively high unemployment at the same time there are help-wanted signs around the state.

The story changes, Wahlert said, for “middle-skill” jobs.

Half the jobs in Iowa — fully 50 percent of them — are middle-skill jobs, state figures show. Yet only 33 percent of employees are considered middle skilled. That means there are job openings — lots of them.

Wahlert said companies want to hire people for those positions, like punching correct measurements into the computer to run a woodworking machine, being a home health aide taking a patient’s pulse and reporting it to a nurse or working as a medical secretary to schedule multiple 22-minute appointments for each doctor.

The Skilled Iowa initiative, Wahler said, can help the low-skilled workers show they have what it takes to get those mid-level, higher-paying jobs.

The National Career Readiness Certificate lets potential employees prove to hiring managers they can do three mid-level functions.

Skill one says, for example, you should know how many squares of paneling to buy to panel a room. That type of problem, Wahlert said, is applied math.

The second skill, reading for information, means the supervisor can leave written instructions on how to do a job or a manual explaining how to use a new piece of equipment.

And the third skill, searching for information, is helpful when there isn’t an instruction manual and the equipment is too dangerous or expensive to risk using trial and error to figure it out.

Employers get plenty of applicants who cannot perform those mid-level tasks. The boss may not know that until after they hire a candidate or put them through their own testing.

That’s why studying for and passing the test provides a benefit for the employee and the employer, Wahlert said.

In fact, she added, some businesses are now telling Iowa Workforce Development that in order for a person to even apply at their company, they must have the NCRC in their hand when arriving for an interview.

The test is available at no cost to Iowa residents and is valid nationally.

On the web:

www.skillediowa.org

1
Text Only
Wapello County
  • 0617 OTT Wapello Co Fair color photo -L -M Come one, come all to the Wapello County Fair

    ELDON — The Wapello County Fair is just around the corner, kicking off with entries being welcomed at Wapello Hall and the Iowa Agricultural Hall from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday. On Thursday, entries for competition will be received from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Siegel, Rubel face off in forum OTTUMWA — For Steve Siegel, a political campaign is nothing new. For Tom Rubel, being the candidate is a first. Now they want the same job. Siegel and Rubel are seeking the Democratic nomination for SD 41, the Iowa Senate district which includes Ottu

    May 29, 2014

  • 0530 OTT Oak tatters picture color Oak leaves left in tatters

    OTTUMWA — Trees throughout Iowa have been terrorized by the likes of Emerald Ash Borer and other dangers in the past months and now oak trees throughout Iowa are in a little bit of more trouble because of a disease called oak tatters. Thankfully, tho

    May 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Help fight hunger OTTUMWA — The groups began with a question: How to better help Wapello County residents who don't have enough decent food. Next week, they'll decide if they've found any answers. The food security project, Growing Wapello Together, had small groups m

    May 28, 2014

  • Attempted murder trial set for July KEOSAUQUA — The Van Buren County man accused of attempted murder could head to trial in a remarkably short time. Dimitrious Royal has a trial date of July 15. If that date is when the trial actually begins, it would take place just more than 11 weeks

    May 28, 2014

  • Agency aces assessment OTTUMWA — A local agency had a lot riding on the outcome of an independent review. They nailed it. "The credential we just received was to show we are a quality [organization]," said Bryan Dunn, executive director of Sieda Community Action. "It's som

    May 27, 2014

  • County backs bike rides OTTUMWA — Bike rides in Wapello County just received a personal push of goodwill from Wapello County Board of Supervisors. Tuesday, supervisors signed a resolution of support for three area bike rides to be conducted in June. The rides include the H

    May 27, 2014

  • 0527 OTT EMS week color photo -L -M ORHC celebrates EMS Week OTTUMWA — During National EMS week, May 18-24, Ottumwa Regional Health Center (ORHC) celebrated its staff, the community EMS providers and the importance of being prepared in emergency situations through education. The ambulance service at ORHC, also

    May 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • Moving into the future OTTUMWA — Wapello County Supervisor Greg Kenning joked after the board approved upgrading the county’s servers Tuesday. “You can put away your quills.” Jokes asides, Wapello County will now have more opportunity to maximize its server resources. The

    May 20, 2014

  • 0520 OTT mushroom provided -T -M Hidden treasure

    OTTUMWA — Yes, it's kind of like winning the lottery. A mushroom hunter and her family cheerfully acknowledged that feeling after stopping by the Ottumwa Courier on Monday. In one lucky search, they'd found hundreds of morels totaling 10 pounds. As u

    May 19, 2014 1 Photo

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National