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Iowa Latino Heritage Festival to Showcase High Demand Jobs

Latino Heritage Festival in Downtown DSM USA

September 6, 2018

Greater Des Moines’ (DSM’s) 2.3 percent unemployment rate is the lowest in more than a decade. That’s good news for many but bad for businesses that struggle to find and retain workers with fewer people in need of employment.

The shortage affects businesses big and small, and all industries. The unemployment rate jumps a little higher when it comes to those of Hispanic or Latino origin statewide — 7.6 percent.

Future Ready

That’s why organizers of Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival have joined with public and private education partners, skilled trades unions, private corporations, Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) and others to support Future Ready Iowa, an initiative to grow Iowa’s talent pipeline through The Empowerment Zone at this year’s festival. The work compliments the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Education Drives our Greater Economy (EDGE) initiative that aims to ensure that 75% of DSM working-age adults have postsecondary degrees, certificates or other credentials by 2025 that align with workforce needs.

The Empowerment Zone will showcase jobs that are in need of workers and provide Latinos and other attendees with information about those jobs. There’s a shortage in workers for specific jobs and a gap in the skills needed to perform those jobs. The festival’s Empowerment Zone will show what is available to those who want new opportunities to empower themselves through advanced educational opportunities and skills training.

Job opportunities

Iowa Workforce Development projects the biggest areas of employment in the state through 2024 will be in tractor-trailer truck drivers, electricians, industrial machinery mechanics, bus and truck mechanists and diesel engine specialists, computer-controlled machine tool operators and millwrights.

Currently, the most job openings are in the areas of first-line supervisors for retail workers, tractor-trailer truck drivers, registered nurses, retail salespeople, customer service representatives and first-line supervisors of food preparation, according to IWD.

Empowerment Zone

The Empowerment Zone will include information about accreditation programs, apprenticeships, two-year degrees, contract staffing and more. The intent is to show attendees there are more routes to success beyond the traditional four-year college education pathway.

The festival is from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 22 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 23 at Western Gateway Park in Downtown DSM. About 10,000 to 12,000 people attend the two-day event. It features folkloric dancers, martial arts performers, a children’s area, booths about the countries represented at the festival and more.

“Sabores de Iowa” is the theme for this year’s event and celebrates the Latino community’s varied history and culture with Latinos coming to Iowa from more than 20 countries across the globe.

Cost to attend the festival is $5 for adults and $1 for children 12 and younger.

Education Drives our Greater Economy (EDGE) is an initiative of Capital Crossroads: A Vision for Greater Des Moines (DSM) and the region focused on improving education attainment from early childhood learning through life-long learning. Under the leadership of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, EDGE aims to ensure that 75% of DSM working-age adults have postsecondary degrees, certificates or other credentials by 2025 that align with workforce needs.

Joe Gonzalez

Joe Gonzalez is a retired member of the Des Moines Police Department where he was a 42-year member and a vital liaison in the department's outreach to the Hispanic/Latino community. Gonzalez was a longtime volunteer for Iowa's Latino Heritage Festival before he took over the reins of the festival as the Executive Director of Latino Resources Inc. in 2014.