United Way of Central Iowa’s Central Iowa Works convened a meeting with area retail and service industry employers and other community stakeholders on June 7, 2018, to share results from the retail analysis report – Preparing for Partnership: An Analysis of the Retail Industry in Central Iowa – and to begin discussing partnership opportunities to build a stronger workforce in these sectors.

The analysis report, conducted by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), is part of a $300,000 grant from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. Des Moines was one of three cities chosen nationally to focus on building partnerships with employers, educators, and community leaders to expand opportunities in retail and connected sectors. Read more about the grant.

Central Iowa Works is focusing on this issue as the demand for employees within the retail and service sectors grows in Greater Des Moines, and central Iowans seek jobs that allow them to advance in careers and be financially self-sufficient.

“As in any industry or region, the ability of local retail employers to effectively capitalize on changing economic realities and continue to successfully meet demand will depend, in large part, on their ability to effectively access a pipeline of quality talent,” said Pat Steele, director of Central Iowa Works. “This will be a primary goal of the Central Iowa Works retail project.”

The Retail Industry report builds on existing research with a unique focus on the workforce issues facing retail employers and businesses. It incorporates the perspective of local employers in retail, hospitality, food service, and retail banking sectors who participated in focus groups in April 2018.

Among the highlights in the report:

  • Central Iowa has a larger share of people employed in the retail industry than in the state and nation.
  • Employers have a high need to fill entry-level, service-heavy jobs
  • Employers need employees with soft-skills and professionalism for their front-line workforce.
  • Limited internal career pathways and formal on-the-job training methods exist
  • Hiring processes, scheduling, compensation, child care, and transportation to and from work play a significant role in filling positions and retaining workers.
  • Many of the workforce issues could be addressed in partnership to have greater impact on the issues individual employers face.

With the release of the report, Central Iowa Works will continue to convene stakeholders to discuss issues and to take specific actions to address workforce issues highlighted in the report.

To access the full report, click here.

About Central Iowa Works

Central Iowa Works, an initiative of United Way of Central Iowa, brings together employers and workers, public and private funding streams, and relevant partners to create and implement pathways to career advancement and employment. The No. 1 goal of Central Iowa Works is to close the skills gap and meet the needs of employers by helping them to recruit and hire qualified workers for jobs in central Iowa. At the same time, it strives to address the needs of job seekers by helping them get trained and hired for real jobs with pathways for growth.

Topics: Financial Stability, Thriving Workforce

Amber Ramirez

Written by Amber Ramirez

Amber Ramirez is the former Director of United Way of Central Iowa's Central Iowa Works.