Iowa Construction Industry Looking to Hire More Women and Minorities

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Much of the East Village is under construction and the Iowa Works is hoping to help reconstruct the industry's demographic in Iowa.

“One of the things we’ve been trying to do is get individuals in our doors. They normally say, 'Construction? That`s hard work! Something I'm not comfortable doing,'” says Jennifer Reha of Iowa Works.

Iowa Works stationed a construction simulator in the East Village for a week, hoping to attract some new faces. The organization applied for a $75,000 Walmart foundation grant aiming to attract more minorities and women into the construction industry.

Jasmine Means Cole currently has a job in the hospitality industry but is looking to try her hand as a heavy equipment operator. She’s interested in positions she didn’t know were available to women until now.

“I grew up in the inner city so everything was like only for men driving. There was never a woman doing this where I grew up," said Cole.

According to the Iowa Works, only 10 percent of the industry is made up of women. Something Reha hopes will start to change over time.

“Women have been shunned or have kind of shied away from the construction industry for a really long time," she says. "Now there are apprenticeships that are geared toward women, minority and low-income individuals to be able to earn while you learn."

Individuals were able to sign up on site for an apprenticeship to a constructing or welding program. Organizers say about 20 people signed up over the course of the week.

On average, construction works earn roughly $24.00 an hour.