Business

Low-income women in Eastern Iowa urged to check out job simulators

Few women working in construction, data show

Hawkeye Community College

Low-income women are being encouraged to check out simulators like these that give a sense of how to work construction equipment this week at Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids.
Hawkeye Community College Low-income women are being encouraged to check out simulators like these that give a sense of how to work construction equipment this week at Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa Workforce Development, IowaWORKS and Hawkeye Community College are hauling in simulators to introduce low-income women to jobs in the construction field today through Friday at IowaWORKS, in the lower level of Lindale Mall at 4444 First Ave. NE.

“This will provide low-income women in Iowa hands-on experience ... (with) non-traditional occupations in the construction trades,” said Courtney Greene, director of communications for Iowa Workforce Development.

Greene said the simulators, owned by Hawkeye Community College and used in classwork, will familiarize women with controls, gauges and systems with professional supervision.

“It’s a 52-foot trailer that has simulators within in it that replicates real-life scenarios in a safe and nonthreatening environment,” said Srdjan Golub, associate director of Hawkeye Community College of Business and Education. “It provides different scenarios like moving a pile of dirt to one place to another, and then it will provide feedback on how well you did, and how much money you made the company.”

Golub said there will be two simulated versions of a bulldozer, two simulated versions of an excavator, as well as simulators of a road grader, loader and welder available.

The simulations are free and open to the public and will be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event is funded by a $75,000 Walmart Foundation grant to transition low-income women into the construction field. The grant covers bringing the simulator and instructors to each of the state’s 15 IowaWORKS offices this year.

According to a PROMISE JOBS Employment and Wage Report, construction is the second-highest-paying industry for men engaged in the PROMISE JOBS program, and data indicate it is an industry showing growth in projected openings and wages.

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In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 9,813,000 people work in the construction industry, and 8.9 percent were female.

“There’s opportunity for women,” Greene added.

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