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Artifact Reflection

School to Work: The Local Labor Market Workshop

July 11-15, 2011, Summer
Shahina Amin
Associate Professor, Dept. of Economics
University of Northern Iowa
Description of this class:
As the pace of the labor market change accelerates, more and more graduates find themselves
dealing with job shock. Our schools do a fine job of equipping students with academic skill, but
many times, student preparation for employment in the real world is insufficient. Finding ways
to assist our young people to make the transition from school-to-work is critical as we move into
the future.

Understand employment requirements of firms in the Cedar Valley

Understand the forces driving the local labor market in the Cedar Valley
Understand the issues of school to work in the nation and in Iowa
Develop materials that can be used to raise student understanding of the workplace
Exchange information and network among educators and business leaders

Class began early in the morning on the UNI campus in the Curris Business Building. During the
morning sessions we were joined by several human resource professionals for in-class
presentations. Each afternoon we conducted an on-site visit to an area business in the
Waterloo/Cedar Falls area.
I enrolled in this class knowing the philosophy of the Economic Department at UNI is devoted to
helping Iowans learn more about how our economic system works. This department is a link
between economists, educators, business and community leaders. As a teacher I am seeking
ways to learn more about economics as a supplement to the Personal Finance class I teach in the
classroom. At the on-site visits teachers were able to gather information from workers and their
supervisors that would help the student in the classroom to be better prepared for work in the real
world after completion of high school. As a teacher this current, now time information is
important to pass onto my students. This type of positive enforcement encourages my students

and boosts their self-esteem into applying for the position. This class continues to be offered and
each time seeks new businesses in different areas of our community. By attending this class the
educator also has firsthand information on job perspectives that may be passed onto the
classroom student. This passing on of information from the teacher to student is the connection
for understanding the importance and satisfaction of learning.
The students at the school I currently teach need all the support and help from the staff that is
possible. Majority of students attending are from low income families, have family members in
jail or prison. This leaves the student wondering how they will be able to make their life better.
The information I gathered on the type of jobs we have available in the Cedar Valley area
provides hope to the student(s).
Being able to network with other teachers and business leaders also provided me with the
opportunity to understand ways to engage students to become active in the classroom. The class
allowed me to see the opportunities available for my students to achieve their goals to succeed
and look forward to a more positive future. Connections are important; this is for the student to
succeed. The role this artifact played in my journey to attain the Master of Arts in Education?
The teacher needs to become the student in order to understand the difficulties of achieving a
goal that seems to be non-achievable. The teacher must understand what is available in their
community and how they may serve to benefit others.


Summer 2011
Reflection Paper
Norma J. Neubauer

I am a Family Consumer Science educator currently employed by the

Waterloo Public School System, Expo Alternative High School, grades
9-12. I teach Consumer Economics, different levels of food preparationnutrition, levels of textile-design and Adult Living classes. This class
will help to guide my students to understand employment requirements
of local firms in the Cedar Valley, understand economic forces of labor
markets and our local labor market. Students in my class will have a
better understanding of a school to work transition and the workplace in general.
Today, Monday, July 11, 2011 the class looked at the definition of unemployment, how it is measured, and differences between employed and unemployed.
Speaker Amy Peters, from CUNA Mutual, presented a through powerpoint
showing her company hiring procedures and objectives.
The second speaker from Target Distribution had my attention right away with
an explanation of temperature variances in their facility and the fact there are
14 banana ripening rooms! I also teach levels of food/nutrition classes. Just the
idea of shipping and storing of food will be easy to incorporate into my classes.
I would like to take upper level food classes there to view the areas.
Amanda stressed good communication skills and basic math skills as
being important.
The afternoon site visit at Iowa Laser was interesting as it was my first visit

there. All workers in the shop area appeared comfortable in their job.
When I speak to students in my classes about finding a job I stress the
importance of being happy to go to work everyday, so this was a good
During the morning of Day Two class discussion compared
womens increase of power in the labor force as compared to a decrease
with men.
Ron Wood, representing Tyson Foods, provided new information to me.
I have students at school who work at Tyson and attend school too. His key
points that will carry over into my classroom include: respect, dignity, become
part of the process, expect more from students, be firm and fair to all, use praise,
and smile. Dressing for success and eye contact are key too. Going into an interview a person should be positive, prepared and smile.
Brenda Everts from Hy-Vee stressed that labor is an employers largest
expense. Brenda gave examples of how Hy-Vee has expanded into other
areas that benefits the company. I was not aware of younger age employee
work restrictions and Brenda provided Hy-Vees policies along with her
expectations for a new hire.
The speakers today seemed to have similar guidelines for people wanting
to enter the workforce. Both stressed the importance of a family team work
atmosphere plus good attitude resulting in good job performance.

The John Deere hiring process with its five steps appears to be simple.

The one thing I observed at John Deere that is different from the other companies
was no mention of how the company keeps morale, loyalty, good work ethics and
encouragement of its factory workers going.
Day three of class provided the charting of the Demand for Labor Curve.
I will explain and show this to my students in class along with having a better
understanding of why there will always be different wage rates for different
The speaker today Alicia Imbouathong, from CBE, was enthusiastic in
her presentation. Workers receive $9.00 plus commission and they will hire
high school graduates.
Bertch Cabinet Company tour was interesting. Their labor force had
31% women, with 750 employees. The average age of worker is 44 years old,
12 years is the average length of time working. They are expanding their line
with the manufacturing of marble top finishes and Timbergate doors. Most
positions are in production. Bertch requires a high school/ged certificate. However if you are close to graduation and are accepted then the hiree will be
asked to complete the degree. Workers communicate well and strive to do well
as a team to accomplish workplace goals.
The Bertch human resource person mentioned that after their workers have
been employed and trained they do lose employees to John Deere. One other
issue was attendance. Departments have weekly meetings. If an employee
creates a better or more efficient way to make an improvement or to save
the company money then that employee receives a t-shirt. I felt that was not

enough recognition for the employee in helping the company.

Day four of class discussion started with the Human Capital Theory.
This simply states that education and training are investments the individual
makes to increase their market skills, productivity and earnings.
On the job training could be formal with general or firm specific. Informal,
for example, would be talk between employees during lunch or talking in the
hallway. Both are acceptable to do.
The class also spent time on why CEOs are grossly overpaid. Reasons
for both were discussed.
Kris Marmie spoke to class on Wheaton Franciscan Health Care. She
briefed the class on job titles and pay. Interested persons may apply on line.
The next speaker represented Iowa Workforce Development. The
employment and unemployment trends were covered. Key points were: Iowa
has a strong agriculture economy, businesses work with temporary services to
get workers, reported lost jobs are because of technology. Construction has
slowed down and that results in workers being laid off. This group and laid off
manufactures have less computer knowledge to acquire a new job. 80% of jobs
are achieved by networking and referrals.
In conclusion the majority of what an employer is seeking in a new employee
would be the following:
Complete on line application form truthfully and correctly
If given the opportunity for an interview make sure research is complete
on the back ground of the company
Bring to interview a resume and cover letter
Present a firm handshake, stay focused on the person giving the
interview, be prepared to ask questions about the workplace to which you
have applied.

Dress appropriately for the interview

Show interest for the job and willingness to work any shift
Demonstrate good communication skills, use good grammar
Have an accurate use of basic math skills
Demonstrate openness and honesty
Show early to the interview
Would be helpful to be bilingual
Demonstrate respect and dignity during interview
Keep eye contact with person who interviews you
Take notes during interview
First impressions are lasting and can not be changed
Do not bash or give mean statements toward former employers
Prepare yourself the best you can to answer questions
Final step in being hired is to prepare yourself for a physical and drug

Day five of class, our last day we were able to listen to Jennifer Rodenbeck
who represented the city of Cedar Falls. This presentation gave us a look at
people hired by a city, form of government. Jennifers information on tattoos is
appreciated. Students at our school wear and want this type of adornment. They
do not think about how this form of body art could affect their employment.
Student presentations provided new ways to use the information we have
been given. It would have been helpful to require groups to provide a copy of
their lesson. I like to see how people take information learned and demonstrate
how that is interpreted. This is part of the learning process.
I enjoyed class and appreciate the handouts provided by our teacher and the
guest speakers. The trips we made to the businesses were enriching and provided
resources and connections to use for classes I teach. I am anxious to incorporate
into my curriculum the new ideas presented to class.
Thank you- Norma J. Neubauer