Iowa Central Community College serves a population of just over 130,000 in north central and northwest Iowa. Our college is the engine for economic development and growth in our region. Our enrollment is just above 5,800 credit students and we provided more than 140,000 non-credit training hours in the 2012-2013 school year, which reinforces the fact we are the education and training center of choice.
During the 2013 legislative session, the Iowa General Assembly, with the governor's signature, provided more tools for our work-force training toolbox to help us address the work-force needs of our regional economy. Iowa Central Community College is working to effectively use these tools to meet our mission of providing quality education and training for the communities and citizens we serve.
The following are samples of the tools and resources provided to us for this coming year and how Iowa Central will use them:
General state aid
How we will use it: With increased state funding, Iowa Central will be able to maintain very cost-effective tuition rates while maintaining staffing levels that ensure continued delivery of a wide range of courses and training that our students and regional economy demands.
Accelerated Career Education Infrastructure funding
How we will use it: Iowa Central uses the ACE Infrastructure dollars to support the facility needs of career and technology programs where there is a demand for individuals with these skills. The dollars support facilities upgrades and expansion.
GAP Tuition Assistance
How we will use it: Iowa Central is providing need-based tuition assistance for non-credit certification training for high-demand jobs, such as truck driving and boiler technicians. This assistance helps people attain certifications and enter the workforce as quickly as possible.
Workforce Training and Economic Development Fund
How we will use it: Iowa Central is using these funds to acquire equipment that mimics what is used in business and industry. We are also supporting our high-growth, high-demand programs such as Electrical Technologies, Process Technology and Industrial Mechanics, as well as the potential establishment of a Career Academy to serve five area high schools. (We have not yet made the decision to use these funds to support the career academy, but there have been discussions.)
Pathways for Academic Career and Employment Program - PACE
How we will use it: For this new service, Iowa Central will provide specialists to guide students along a prescribed academic pathway from the Adult Basic Education level through college completion or certificate programs in order to assist students in meeting future workplace needs.
Adult Basic Education
How we will use it: This newly funded service will increase our outreach efforts and the number of adults we serve needing education and literacy services, leading to a high school equivalency diploma. This will enable us to assist students with their transition to college, training and work.
Work-based Learning Intermediary Program
How we will use it: Iowa Central will use this new funding to establish and connect high schools with business and industry. The connection will involve both students as well as parents, teachers, counselors and administrators. The intermediary will play a critical role in establishing career pathways by utilizing the following components: career exploration activities, career day planning, work-force tours, high school presentations on job seeking skills, externships, work-force data and employer panels.
The financial support the governor and Legislature provided to community colleges reflects great confidence in our ability to deliver the training and services our workforce and partners have requested. This funding will significantly assist Iowa Central with our mission to provide the education and training needed to advance the communities and regional economy we serve.
If anyone has any questions or would like additional information, they can call me at 574-1132 or visit Iowa Central's internet connections at:
Jim Kersten is vice president for external affairs and government relations at Fort Dodge-based Iowa Central Community College.