Mission Impossible Podcast

Our mission: to introduce listeners to strategies and programs geared toward strengthening Iowa's workforce.

Mission: Employable is a weekly podcast focused on workforce-related topics in Iowa. We will feature conversations with subject matter experts about the wide variety of  programs and services offered by our agency and partner organizations. It is also a chance to  speak with Iowans about innovative solutions for building a skilled workforce. The podcast will have something for everyone, whether you are an employer looking to expand your workforce, or a job seeker interested in a high-demand job. 

Tune in every Tuesday for the latest episode: Listen to All Episodes

Hosted by Ryan West, Iowa Workforce Development Deputy Director.

Produced by the Iowa Workforce Development Communications Bureau.


December 2021

In this episode of Mission: Employable, we sit down with Mak Suceska, Bureau Chief of the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services, to discuss how employers can hire from an often overlooked workforce: Iowa's refugee community.  Suceska recalls his own story as a Bosnian refugee who settled in Iowa and discusses how other members of the refugee community can connect to employment opportunities.  

November 2021

We’re talking about how public transportation has an important role in supporting the workforce. Amanda Wanke, DART (Des Moines Area Regional Transit) Deputy CEO, guides us through all the resources DART has available to riders in the Des Moines area, and how businesses can help solve transportation issues for their workers.  

In this special minisode we get you caught up with the latest edition of the Employer Innovation Fund.  We'll talk about what the grant money is used for, who can apply, and where you can send that application. You can also find out more about the grant at https://www.futurereadyiowa.gov/innovation

Business Marketing Specialist Kate Pine joins the podcast to talk about how she helps connect employers and job seekers to opportunities in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids corridor. Hear the advice she has for employers, including the one thing she says to do now to get more applicants for job openings.

Our celebration of National Apprenticeship Week continues as host Ryan West sits down with Lead Instructor Tim Vassios of the Missouri Valley Line Constructors Apprenticeship and Training Program. Take a deep dive into the program that teaches electrical line workers the tools of the trade. Learn how to get started as a Lineman and how much money you could earn after finishing a Registered Apprenticeship program in the field. For more info about Registered Apprenticeship programs visit: EarnAndLearnIowa.gov

On today’s episode of Mission: Employable, we welcome our new Registered Apprenticeship Coordinator Kristopher Byam to the podcast studio. We talk about Byam’s background as an educator and what the future holds for Registered Apprenticeship programs across the state. Find out more about Registered Apprenticeship opportunities by visiting EarnAndLearnIowa.gov

It’s Veterans Day! As we wrap up our Veterans Week special event, we want to say “thank you” to all our service members, Veterans, and their families for everything they do for us.  On today’s episode we welcome Home Base Iowa Program Manager Gary Sharp to talk about how HBI and the Iowa National Guard work together to serve Iowa’s Veterans.  

Our week-long recognition of Veterans Day continues on Mission: Employable. Join us as we talk with Soldier and Family Readiness Specialist Tara Hellickson and Lieutenant Colonel George Mosby of the Army National Guard. Our guests share how Veterans can better advocate for themselves on resumes and what businesses can do to become a welcoming place for Veterans to work. 

We're honoring Veterans Day all this week with three special episodes about the resources in Iowa geared toward Veterans and their families. On today’s episode, we're speaking with Justin Kent, a DVOP (Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist) from our Waterloo IowaWORKS office. Justin shares how IowaWORKS strives to assist Veterans with disabilities, and how hiring managers can tap into a labor force which can produce A+ employees. 

A Mission: Employable podcast on a Friday? That must mean something big happened! In this special episode, we talk about some of the upcoming resources announced by the Governor’s Child Care Task Force, including a new statewide designation for businesses to become a “Best Place for Working Parents” as well as a $10 million grant to help increase child care availability across the state. 

In this episode, we talk about the workforce resources available to refugee communities across Iowa. Henny Ohr, Director of EMBARC Iowa, explains how program navigators help members of refugee communities overcome barriers to employment and connect with job opportunities. 

IowaWORKS centers across the state are here to help your company find skilled employees. IowaWORKS Business Marketing Specialist Deborah Fox explains how she works directly with local businesses to help them identify their workforce needs, overcome hiring barriers, and recruit new talent. 

Building the workforce of tomorrow starts with innovation in the classroom today. In this episode, Central Campus Director of Career and Technical Education Tascha Brown explains how schools can help students explore their career interests and start making their post-graduation plans. 

October 2021

There are job training programs that help individuals transition out of correctional facilities and back into the workforce. Reentry Coordinator for North Iowa Correctional Facilities Brian Pibal explains how workforce services help build skills and a supportive network for returning citizens looking for job opportunities. 

This episode focuses on Project Iowa, a non-profit organization that offers support and training services to Iowans seeking better careers. Project Iowa volunteer Chris Noth explains some of the ways the organization works with teenagers to connect them with training and mentorship opportunities in the community.  

This episode is all about the perspective of a job seeker here in Iowa. We spoke with Dan Rund to learn about his experiences searching for work and what he hopes to accomplish in his  journey. 

Join the conversation as we highlight St. Vincent de Paul, an organization that has programs to help underserved populations build job skills and find pathways to employment. Executive Director Steve Havemann talks about how St. Vincent de Paul of Des Moines works with the community to help people overcome barriers and connect with new job opportunities.  

This episode is dedicated to the Workforce Roundtables scheduled throughout Iowa this fall. Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend explains how each event opens up discussions about strategies and programs that help employers build their workforce. 

In this episode, we’re exploring how the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Young Adult program helps individuals between the ages of 18-24 earn a career training certification.  Program Navigator Alyssa Czapla and Employment Specialist Ruby Murillo share how a short-term training certificate can be a stepping stone for young Iowans to excel in high-demand careers. 

We’re talking about on-the-job training programs that help returning citizens learn skills for high-demand jobs. Dane Sulentic, Registered Apprenticeship Coordinator for the Department of Corrections, explains how Registered Apprenticeship programs train individuals transitioning out of correctional facilities and prepare them for reentering the workforce. 

This episode is all about the Knight Moves program, which is dedicated to creating pathways into technology careers. Linc Kroeger, Founder and President of Knight Moves, talks about how community partnerships can provide technology training opportunities to underrepresented populations in rural and urban communities.

September 2021

We’re highlighting the Returning Citizens Initiative that helps job seekers who are transitioning out of correctional facilities. Shelley Seitz, Iowa Workforce Development Reentry Coordinator, discusses how reentry services help employers hire, train, and retain employees who are part of the returning citizen population. 

In this episode, learn about the Job Corps, a tuition-free training and education program for students in fast-growing industries. Jillian Flanders, Job Corps Outreach and Admissions Manager, shares how the program teaches students employability skills while getting certified in their chosen job field. 

In this episode, we explore how work-based learning can benefit both workers and employers. Randall McQueeney, Council Bluffs IowaWORKS Operations Manager, shares his journey in work-based learning and explains how businesses can create opportunities for their employees with on-the-job training. 

In this episode, we are talking about economic development in the Sioux City part of the state. Chris McGowan, President of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce, discusses how Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota collaborate on strategies to help businesses recruit skilled workers to the tri-state area.  

We’re highlighting some important resources available to job seekers and employers in Iowa. Linda Rouse, IowaWORKS District Manager, explains how the IowaWORKS staff develop one-on-one relationships with job seekers and businesses to help them find workforce solutions. 

Join the discussion as we focus on innovative ways for employers to recruit and retain skilled workers. Georgia Van Gundy, Hy-Vee Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Customer Officer, highlights strategies for finding talent in a competitive labor market.  

We’re talking about the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) and how the organization stays connected with over 1,500 employer members in Iowa. Iowa ABI President Mike Ralston joins the show and shares strategies for helping employers find workforce solutions. 

August 2021

In this episode, we’re highlighting two programs that incentivize employers to hire hard-to-place job seekers.  IowaWORKS Division Administrator Mike Witt and Iowa Workforce Development Reentry Coordinator Shelley Seitz join us to explain how employers can participate in Federal Bonding and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) programs. 

We’re highlighting an Iowa-based program that helps individuals overcome barriers to employment. Izaah Knox, Executive Director of Urban Dreams, shares how the organization works within communities to help unemployed and underemployed individuals get connected with rewarding employment opportunities. 

Learn about the team that collects and analyzes key workforce data for the entire state. Iowa Workforce Development Labor Market Information Bureau Chief Ryan Murphy shares how the agency presents data about wages, unemployment, labor trends and more.  

In this episode we’re talking about how Iowa’s businesses can grow their workforce by hiring Iowans from all generations.  AARP State Director Brad Anderson talks about the changing demographics of Iowa’s workforce and how communities can support Iowans of all age groups.

Join the conversation as we explore strategies employers can use to hire, train and retain skilled workers. Kyle Roed, Global Human Resources Vice President at CPM Holdings, Inc., discusses how employers can diversify their talent pool and strengthen their workforce.  

We’re talking about how employers can strengthen their organization by opening up opportunities for Iowans with disabilities. Ashlea Lantz, Senior Consultant at Griffin-Hammis Institute, and Joseph Jones, Executive Director of the Harkin Institute, discuss the upcoming Harkin Summit on Disability Employment on August 19, 2021.  

This episode highlights a program that helps Iowans navigate a path to a better quality of life. Jayson Henry, CEO of The Well, shares how the program works with individuals facing barriers and helps them find stable employment.

This episode is all about ways employers can recruit skilled workers in a tight labor market. David Ottavianelli, Director of Strategic Projects and Labor Relations at John Deere, shares strategies for building a local talent pipeline that could help you retain talent within your company.

 In this episode, learn about the Junior Achievement program, which helps students gain real-world experience as early as kindergarten. Junior Achievement president Ryan Osborn talks about how the program uses simulations to help students gain experience with business ownership, finance, and life skills to use beyond the classroom.

July 2021 

We’re highlighting the Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) program to learn how communities and businesses can support students as they start their professional journey after high school. Laurie Phelan, iJAG President and CEO, explains how the program helps empower, develop, and inspire students from diverse communities to become leaders in the workforce. 

This episode focuses on the next generation of working Iowans and how the trades could help them find a high-demand career that sparks their interest. Home Builders of Des Moines Executive Officer Dan Knoup shares how the association does that by connecting Iowans with career training and education opportunities in the construction industry.  

Tune in to part three of our special episode series about the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program. We will hear from CAPS students about how the program helped them find their career interests and a path after high school. 

We’re back for part two of our three-part special on the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program based in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Part two focuses on how the CAPS program keeps business leaders engaged with training the next generation of working Iowans.  

This episode kicks off a special three-part series about the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program here in Iowa. Part one focuses on how CAPS prepares students for professional work environments through projects with local businesses. Program Development Director Nate Clayberg and Program Director Ethan Wiechmann discuss how the program gives students an opportunity to discover their career interests.  

In this episode, we’re highlighting the job resources and services that can help you during your personal journey. IowaWORKS Division Administrator Mike Witt shares how IowaWORKS centers can help you build your resume, search for jobs, and find education and training opportunities to further your career.  

In this episode, we’re discussing how industries are finding innovative ways to adjust to impacts of the pandemic. Ben McLean, the CEO of Ruan Transportation, shares how companies like Ruan are adapting to supply chain challenges and finding new ways to keep operations moving.

We’re hitting the road and talking about how Iowans can get training toward a Certified Drivers License (CDL) and a career in transportation. David Pfiffner, Director of the Transportation Institute at Des Moines Area Community College, explains the options available to train the next generation of drivers across the state.

June 2021

Join the discussion about an Iowa Workforce Development program that helps job seekers find work and learn about unemployment benefits. Elizabeth Waigand, Bureau Chief of Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA), shares how the program assists Iowans with their employment goals.  

Manufacturing jobs have rapidly changed in the last 20 years. Ron DeBord, Vice President of Human Resources at Owen Industries, talks about the positive career projections in this field and how employers can recruit and train the next generation of workers to lead the way in modern manufacturing. 

We’re discussing the benefits of a well-rounded education and how Iowans can achieve their professional goals. Craig Owens, Dean of the John Dee Bright College at Drake University, discusses two new Associate degree programs designed to help students develop leadership and management skills that will help them thrive in a variety of careers.  

We’re talking about the ways that businesses can keep their momentum to get back to normal operations after the pandemic. Iowa Business Council Executive Director Joe Murphy talks about strategies to help businesses adapt to post-pandemic shifts in the way we work.

Learn about the strides in diesel technology careers and what kind of training opportunities are available. Shea Parsons, Professor of Diesel Technology at Des Moines Area Community College, shares his experiences as a mechanic and talks about the growing need for more diesel technicians throughout the state.

Join us for a discussion about Iowa’s community colleges with Dr. Lori Sundberg, the president of Kirkwood Community College. Discover how community colleges help students get the education and training necessary for in-demand careers across the state.

This episode focuses on the collaboration between Mercy College and MercyOne Medical Center. Find out how this partnership is helping to advance healthcare education and recruit more Iowans into the rapidly growing career field. 

This week we’ll learn about the benefits of starting a High School Registered Apprenticeship program.   Guests from West Delaware High School discuss their welding Registered Apprenticeship program and how it creates new opportunities for students ready to enter the workforce. For more information about starting a Registered Apprenticeship program, visit EarnAndLearnIowa.gov.

It’s another Registered Apprenticeship podcast on this episode of “Mission: Employable”. Greer Sisson, the State Director of the U.S. Department of Labor/Office of Apprenticeship, shares how Registered Apprenticeship programs make a big difference in Iowa. Learn about how Registered Apprenticeship programs can build a skilled workforce in our state. 

May 2021

Waukee APEX Director Michelle Hill drops in to talk about how the innovative program is connecting high schoolers, businesses, and communities for next-level education. Learn how the Waukee APEX program is helping the students of today become the workforce of tomorrow.  

“Order up!” Join the discussion about Iowa's restaurant industry with guest Jessica Dunker, President and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. Dunker talks about the pandemic’s impact on the food service industry, and how crucial it is for Iowa’s restaurants to bounce back over the next year. 

In this episode, we are talking about untapped talent in Iowa’s workforce with Dr. Marvin DeJear, Senior Vice President of Talent Development at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Learn about the resources and programs available to help employers build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Join the conversation as we talk about ways to build a more inclusive workforce for Iowans with disabilities. Administrator for Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services David Mitchell discusses key resources and programs that can provide assistance to Iowans with disabilities and connect people with employment opportunities.  

Read the transcript (PDF)

April 2021

On today's episode of Mission: Employable, Registered Apprenticeship Coordinator Amy Beller talks about how registered apprenticeship programs can benefit both employers and job-seekers. There is a Registered Apprenticeship program for just about any career field. Whether you're a business looking to build your talent pipeline or an adult-learner seeking a career change, this podcast is for you! 

In this episode we learn about the motivation behind the STEMBEST initiative from the Executive Director Jeff Weld. The STEM program is a fantastic way for building a talent pipeline in fields that include science, technology, engineering and math. The key is to get kids engaged in these programs at a young age so they can build Iowa's future ready workforce! 

Don't miss this special entrepreneurial episode where Iowa's very own Christian Gray shares how AXIS-U uses an "earn and learn" training model to develop skilled workers. Christian’s passion for helping employers and job seekers alike is changing the landscape of career training and employee recruitment in Iowa.  Jump in and get the scoop on how AXIS-U can help you today! 

Learn about what the Future Ready Iowa initiative is and its goal to strengthen Iowa's workforce for years to come. Future Ready Iowa Policy Advisor Kathy Leggett talks about the innovative initiative and how it is already creating new opportunities for Iowans. Whether you are an employer, educator, adult learner or a recent graduate, there is a Future Ready Iowa program for you!  

In today’s episode, we talk about how the Home Base Iowa program is poised to attract Veterans and returning service members to the state of Iowa. We’ll hear from the Home Base Iowa Coordinators Jathan Chicoine and Gary Sharpe, who give you the scoop on all the awesome opportunities that are available to Veterans, returning service members, and their families! 

In this episode, the President of the Technology Association of Iowa, Brian Waller breaks down some of the fantastic initiatives that are going on around the state technology wise. As you will hear, technology is much larger and in many more organizations than one may think. Don’t shy away from the tech innovation that Iowa offers. Tune in and get plugged in to some wonderful opportunities!

Don't miss a great episode where Executive Director Aaron Horn lays out all the of great opportunities that NewBoCo offers. Located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, NewBoCo is positioned to help Iowa decrease the skills gap in information technology coding. Tune in and find out how you can acquire the skills to shape the state for years to come!

This week we're talking about how Iowans can find the right tools and resources to find their dream job. IowaWORKS Division Administrator Mike Witt talks about how American Job Centers across the state can help job seekers and employers connect with great opportunities.

Join us for a special episode to celebrate baseball season's opening day with Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg and Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend. They will share their thoughts on the upcoming season and how it helps kick off springtime openings for Iowa's businesses.

March 2021


This week, Director Debi Durham joins us for a discussion about Iowa’s positive workforce forecast. Director Durham oversees the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority. Both agencies play important roles in helping Iowa foster innovation and unique workforce opportunities across the state.

Join the leader of Iowa Workforce Development for a discussion on all things workforce opportunity in the State of Iowa. In this episode, Director Beth Townsend highlights statewide initiatives as we come out of the pandemic. Director Townsend is a veteran of the United States Air Force and she talks about the awesome opportunities that are available for returning service members and veterans in the State of Iowa. Don't miss it!

Don't miss episode two of the Mission: Employable podcast where Iowa Lt. Governor Adam Gregg talks about the advantages that Iowa has to offer. The Lt. Governor is involved with some fantastic initiatives around the state, that lend well to us coming out of the pandemic.

In this first Mission: Employable episode, hear Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds lay out her vision for Iowa as we come out of the pandemic. Adversity creates opportunity and the Governor's vision for Iowa's workforce is very positive. Join us and discover your future career path!