Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

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Iowa Prison Industries is the job training program within the Iowa Department of Corrections. IPI wants to help offenders have successful reentry and never return to prison. A combination of hard and soft skills can turn an incarcerated person into an employable, contributing member of society.

Iowa Prison Industries helps offenders build hard skills. These are physical and specific skills that are directly transferable to the Iowa job market. These can be taught and mastered. Below are examples of some hard skills developed at IPI:

  • Woodworking
  • Welding
  • Manufacturing
  • Warehousing
  • Data entry
  • CAD drawing
  • Inventory control
  • And many more

Soft skills are more difficult to measure but as equally important as hard skills. These are personal attributes that enable a person to be their best self. Some offenders lack necessary soft skills because they have never held a full time job. IPI introduces them to these offenders and they can always be improved. Below are examples of some soft skills developed at IPI:

  • Self-confidence
  • Responsibility
  • Accountability
  • Punctuality
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Goal setting
  • Taking pride in a job well done
  • Reintroduction into society
  • And many more

Iowa Prison Industries currently reduces the recidivism (return to prison) rate by 8 percent. An Unemployed ex-offender is four times more likely to return to prison than one who is employed. By giving offenders the hard and soft skills they need to be successful, IPI is building brighter futures.

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