Iowa Western Community College, in collaboration with the Workforce Alignment Advisory Committee, announces the launch of the Pottawattamie County Workforce Alignment Plan. This initiative was developed to analyze the current and future workforce needs of area businesses and develop strategies to create a sufficient supply of workers who possess necessary skills.
The initiative is the result of an 18-month Iowa West Foundation funded strategic planning effort of community organizations including Iowa Western, the Council Bluffs Community School District, the Lewis Central Community School District, the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, Western Iowa Development Association, the Iowa West Foundation, the Council Bluffs Community Education Foundation, Iowa Workforce Development and VODEC. Business input was provided by Acieta (formerly Ellison Technologies Automation), Central Life Sciences and Menards.
Education and community service providers currently have programs designed to up-skill workers, but the committee aims to coordinate efforts so that gaps in training and services can be addressed.
The plan contains goals and objectives organized around identifying the talent needs of businesses and supplying training to students and incumbent workers to upgrade their skills. Greg Olenick, Vice President and General Manager of Acieta said the new plan will help his company grow its workforce. “It is essential for local businesses to have access to a trained and skilled workforce if they are to grow and achieve their long range growth plans,” he said. “Acieta made a decision to “grow our own” robotics technicians by partnering with IWCC to help train students for one of the world’s fastest-growing career opportunities. We needed to increase the awareness of students at the K-12 level for career opportunities in this exciting field. We have partnered with Council Bluffs School District by participating in the Technology Career Academy, mentoring the VEX Robotics teams, donating a robot for the CIM Project Lead The Way class and hiring high school students as summer interns. The Workforce Alignment Plan has components that will enable businesses to help the community to develop a skilled workforce to help meet their immediate needs and achieve their long range goals.”
The Iowa Legislature currently provides funding to community colleges for a variety of workforce development programs. The Education to Employment GAP tuition assistance program allows students to take short term training programs that will enable them to gain skills in occupations that are in demand by employers. There are also free college and career preparatory classes designed to enhance students’ skills and employability while preparing them for vocational training and college degree programs. The Workforce Alignment Plan will build upon these existing programs and will identify gaps in services and work with community partners to fill the needs.
One of the plan strategies involves pairing high school and college students with local businesses for internship opportunities. Students can gain hands-on training to understand what a business does and how their education will help them succeed. “At Iowa Western, we believe work-based learning enhances traditional coursework,” said Dr. Dan Kinney, President of Iowa Western Community College. “Internships can be an invaluable part of a student’s educational experience. Being able to apply classroom concepts to the real world of the business environment will better prepare them for their future careers.”
For more information, please contact Matt Mancuso at Iowa Western, 712-325-3434, or visit the Pottawattamie County Workforce Alignment website www.workforcealignment.com