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Iowa Western helps train area workers
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Iowa Western helps train area workers

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Iowa Western Community College provides on-campus and online instruction to more than 6,000 students per year and gives many of them hands-on experience performing skills they will need for the career they are seeking — whether it’s welding or health care.

But Iowa Western provides instruction to a lot more people than that.

The college also provides training to thousands of new employees at area industries, workers who need to learn new skills, apprentices and some of the managers who supervise employees and operations at both blue- and white-collar businesses.

“I think economic development — growing businesses, working with businesses in our community — is a vital mission to what Iowa Western does,” President Daniel Kinney said.

The training is an important asset to the community, according to Mayor Matt Walsh.

“A lot of people get into business because they have a specialty or a particular area of expertise,” he said. “Anytime you can help educate them so they can have a higher degree of success, that’s valuable.”

The training can provide people with the skill set they need to succeed, Walsh said.

The training helps generate revenue for the college, too, said Mark Stanley, vice president of economic and workforce development at Iowa Western. Iowa Western charges market rate for its training at businesses, which is generally higher than the college’s tuition rates, he said.

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Kinney did not have the numbers at his fingertips, but said, “It would be a significant portion of our revenue.”

In 2020, Iowa Western conducted training at more than a dozen companies throughout southwest Iowa. That included more than 20 projects ranging from one-day training sessions to multiyear customized training programs, according to Starlyn Perdue, director of economic development.

Iowa Western provides economic development, workforce development and entrepreneurial development services, according to information from the Division of Economic and Workforce Development. Training is offered through the Industrial New Jobs Training (260E) and Iowa Jobs Training (260F) programs and on a customized basis.

“Businesses change, and they need additional training … we have a ton of classes we can do for businesses out there,” Kinney said. “We can do it on site in the business, or we can do it in our training labs here on campus.”

With the Industrial New Jobs Training program, training funds come from certificates sold by the college. The certificates are paid for by the diversion of the new employees’ payroll withholding tax. To be eligible, businesses must be new or expanding and must be engaged in manufacturing, processing or assembling products or conducting research and development. Service businesses must be engaged in interstate commerce to be eligible. Iowa businesses relocating within the state are not eligible.

The Iowa Jobs Training program provides forgivable loans to Iowa businesses to train existing workers. The purpose of the program is to help Iowa businesses become more competitive by providing the resources to maximize the skills and productivity of their workers.

The college provides training through the CEAM program at the Center of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing in Clarinda, Perdue said. It provided customized training in electrical, electromechanical, industrial maintenance and tool and die technology, as well as a welding apprenticeship.

The college also coordinated and conducted training in CPR, CNC operations, basic and advanced electricity, English as a second language, plasma cutting, hydraulics, machine process theory and application, machine tooling and repair, machine trades and blueprint reading, management and leadership, technical math, mechanical power transmission, metallurgy, Microsoft Excel, basic and advanced motor controls, basic and advanced programmable logic controllers, robotics, variable-frequency drives and many other subjects.

The training is delivered by internal and external experts, Stanley said.

“In general, we have one staff trainer who delivers about a third of our training, we have four or five independent contractors that we regularly work with who provide about a third of our training,” he said, “and the final third is delivered by faculty or industry experts when we have a more unique training need or simply too much volume to handle with our staff and normal independent contractors.”

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