Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $900,000)
Hawkeye Community Colleges proposes to implement the expansion of the Pathways to Education and Employment for Reentry (PEER) program. The purpose is to provide employment services and connections (Category 2) to incarcerated individuals and those involved in community corrections in the First Judicial District of Iowa. Hawkeye responds to Category 2 on page one of the Project Narrative Document. Project activities include career pathway navigation services, soft-skills development, job search assistance, intrusive case management, access to occupational skills training and high school completion courses, support services, job retention services, and wage subsidies. The United States, and in particular, Iowa, is facing a devastating workforce shortage and is on the verge of a crisis. Currently in the state of Iowa, there is an ever-increasing demand for skilled workers in almost every industry. Iowa’s skilled worker shortage and the problems associated with it is amplified by a declining and aging population. This trend will continue until at least the mid-2020s or early 2030s. Additionally, Iowa has experienced an economic boom since the peak of the Great Recession and post-COVID pandemic which has exacerbated the problem. Unemployment rates are at all-time lows where high, middle, low, and no skill workers have ample career choices but have left business and industry scrambling. Government leaders, politicians, human resource professionals, education entities, unions, industry executives, and others agree that the state of Iowa has a problem. One population of individuals who have potential to fill local workforce needs are those incarcerated or those who have been connected to the justice system in the past. Economic modeling data from Lightcast shows that there is a large amount of anticipated growth in some of the largest industries in the First Judicial District of Iowa which include advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and construction. PEER participants will meet with program staff to complete an employment related assessment to determine a career goal. Expected outcomes include a reduction in District wide recidivism by 5%, serve 150 incarcerated individuals per year for a total of 450 within the three-year grant period, and 105 participants will complete industry training and obtain employment at an average wage of $20 per hour. Outcomes will be monitored by Hawkeye Community College. Incarcerated individuals at the Black Hawk County jail, individuals housed at correctional facilities in the First District and individuals receiving community correction services are the intended beneficiaries of the project. There are no subrecipient activities.