Not Just Any Job

Our Quality Pre-apprenticeship Program prepares Iowans to qualify for and succeed in a skilled construction trades apprenticeship. Registered apprenticeship provides high-quality “earn while you learn” job training with pay from day one, no student debt, and a path to a skilled trades career paying a living wage and providing retirement and health benefits. Our five-week program is recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor and uses an industry-recognized Multi-Craft Core Curriculum.

Thanks to a federally-funded grant awarded by the City of Iowa City, this program is currently open to all Iowa City residents. We are actively recruiting women, people of color, veterans, and workers with disabilities. The Labor Center will hold an annual five-week apprenticeship readiness course each year from 2023 - 2027 in Iowa City. Throughout the year, the Labor Center, Dream City, New Creations International Church, and over a dozen Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area Registered Apprenticeship programs will coordinate efforts to recruit and place residents who are interested in a career in the trades.

Our Annual Apprenticeship Readiness Course Offers:

  • Exposure to 16 different skilled trades and industry awareness
  • Tours of area Registered Apprenticeship training facilities
  • Construction math and test preparation
  • Introduction to tools, materials, and blueprint reading
  • Recognized multi-craft core curriculum (MC3)
  • First Aid/CPR, and OSHA 10 safety certifications
  • Green Construction module
  • Communication, time management, financial literacy, and interview skills​​​​
  • Respectful worksite and bystander intervention workshops
  • Improved chance of acceptance into a paid registered apprenticeship training program in construction
  • Connections to apprenticeship training coordinators, and
  • Support toward success in completing apprenticeship training
Next 5-Week Apprenticeship Readiness Course: October 2023

Interested in a Skilled Construction Trades Career?

Our Fall 2023 course has been completed. We will begin recruitment for our next cohort (Feb.-March 2025) in early April 2024. It will be open to Iowa City residents and will meet from 5pm-9pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 8:30am-4:30pm on Saturdays in Iowa City.

If you are ready to start a career in the trades, you don't have to wait! You can reach out directly to apprenticeship training programs across Iowa or contact us at to help you get started . Information about statewide training programs in more than a dozen skilled trades is available at the Iowa State Building & Construction Trades website and at the Iowa College Access Network.

Want to Attend Our Next Apprenticeship Readiness Course? Apply Here!

Looking for an Introduction to our Program? Watch this Information Session/Q&A 


Frequently Asked Questions

Participants must be at least 17 years old.  However, keep in mind that following completion of our course, most Registered Apprenticeship Programs require applicants to be at least 18 years old.

Our program is absolutely free.  We even provide all the materials you'll need. 

Having construction experience is not a prerequisite.  We will provide you will an overview of the construction industry and related skilled trades. 

The goal of the course is to equip participants to apply and gain entry to a Registered Apprenticeship training program. The courses will expose participants to over a dozen different skilled trades (e.g., boilermakers, roofers, plasterers and cement masons, laborers, electricians, carpenters, iron workers, operating engineers, insulators, painters, sheet metal workers, plumbers and pipefitters, and bricklayers), and will make every effort to connect those who develop interest in a particular trade directly to training coordinators of Iowa Registered Apprenticeship programs in that trade. Preapprentice programs cannot guarantee entry into a Registered Apprenticeship but can greatly improve participants’ chances of qualifying for entry and succeeding after being accepted.

You can read this booklet for more information about the various trades and to help you pick the right one for you.

A Registered Apprenticeship is a proven model of occupation-specific training validated by the US Department of Labor. A Registered Apprenticeship is typically a one to five-year program (depending on the trade) that provides paid on-the-job training and instruction, resulting in an industry-recognized credential that is valid nationwide. Apprentices in a registered program begin earning a paycheck on day one, and typically earn scheduled raises in pay and benefits as they advance through the program.

We currently have funding to offer this program to any Iowa City resident actively seeking a pathway to a career in a skilled trade. We also partner with the United Way of Central Iowa to provide the course in selected correctional facilities as part of Central Iowa Returning Citizens Achieve.

One goal of the program is to boost efforts to diversify skilled trades in Iowa, and so our program actively recruits participants from groups that are underrepresented in Registered Apprenticeship training programs, including youth (ages 16-24), women, people of color, veterans, and people with disabilities.

To participate in the Labor Center's Quality Pre-Apprenticeship Program, applicants should have a sincere desire to enter a career in the building and construction trades and the ability and willingness to do physical work. Classes will be conducted in English.

As part of our program, we will assist you in meeting qualifications for Registered Apprenticeship programs, which at minimum include:

  • a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Math, reading, and basic English language proficiency - testing and other requirements will vary depending on the trade. Math review, practice, and test preparation are included in this course, but applicants will need to arrive with basic math skills.
  • driver’s license and/or reliable transportation to course sessions (or ability to obtain license in future, since it is required for entry into most Registered Apprenticeship programs).

Accepted applicants will be asked to commit to attending all course sessions, complying with basic conduct policies including refraining from use of illegal substances, and remaining in contact with program staff for follow up activities after completing the course.

We rely on a variety of skilled and knowledgeable individuals to lead the classes.  They may include University of Iowa Labor Center labor educators, Iowa registered apprenticeship training coordinators, certified OSHA, CPR, and First Aid instructors, and social service agency staff.

That's easy.  You can:

Calling All Iowa Tradeswomen!

 Join the Iowa Women in Trades Network - a multi-craft, statewide group of tradeswomen that is raising awareness of opportunities for women in the building and construction trades, sharing strategies for success, and planning leadership development opportunities.