Iowa Central Community College: Growing its training, area businesses benefit
Sunday, January 27, 2019
A strong local economy has led to Iowa Central Community College partnering with area industries to provide the specific training their workers need.
“We’re doing a lot more business and industrial training,” said Dan Kinney, the president of the Fort Dodge-based college. “We’re seeing a real increase in our non-credit offerings out there.”
The college has partnered with Jensen Builders Ltd. in Fort Dodge recently to train some of its workers. Each week, those workers spend one day at the college and four days at the construction company.
Another example of such a partnership can be found in Storm Lake, where employees of Tyson Foods spend their mornings at the college’s center there four days a week and spend the rest of those days at work. Kinney said those employees earn $18 an hour even when they’re in class.
That kind of training is part of an ongoing evolution in education, according to Kinney. That evolution began with the realization that not everyone needs a bachelor’s degree to get a good job.
Now it’s becoming apparent that for some career fields just a certificate or a diploma is enough to get someone into the workforce, he said.
Kinney said Iowa Central will continue to work closely with area high schools, especially on offering their students education in specific careers.
“There are some great career opportunities in our region we need to expose our youth to,” he said.
High school students in Greene County will be able to take those types of classes in a new facility. Last year, voters in the Greene County Community School District approved a bond referendum to pay for a new high school in Jefferson. One wing of the school will be a career academy operated by Iowa Central. Construction is expected to start this spring.
Training for health care careers remains very popular at Iowa Central. The college offers programs in nursing, medical laboratory technology, dental hygiene, radiology and emergency medical services.
Advanced manufacturing classes, including welding, are also popular. And Kinney said the college has seen a lot of growth in its computer network technology programs.
Kinney said the college still has many students who complete an associate’s degree and then transfer to a four-year college or university.
Starting in the 2019-2020 academic year, Iowa Central students will be able to take advantage of a flat-rate tuition program, and at the same time check out a Surface Go tablet device that would enable them to access textbooks and other materials electronically.
Iowa Central is the first community college in the state to offer such a program and one of the first in the nation to do so.