Employers and Employees Both Win: Business and Community Solutions

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Employers and their current and future workers have a lot to gain from Northeast Iowa Community College’s (NICC) Business and Community Solutions division. For job seekers, employers looking for workers with specific skill sets, underemployed workers who want to earn more and professionals who seek certification or a career change, this division puts career training and employer satisfaction at the forefront of its mission.

Business and Community Solutions offers continuing education, non-credit coursework and certification options for community members that greatly impact their job readiness and local career advancement opportunities. In 2012, more than16,790 individual community members enrolled in continuing education classes in the areas of Adult Literacy, Healthcare, Life and Leisure, Business, Trades, Information Technology and Advanced Manufacturing. Many more attended Business and Community Solutions-sponsored events, workshops and conferences to network with others, enhance their professional expertise or to just have fun. This division continues to build upon a successful story for the College and community. Since 1985, Business and Community Solutions has provided more than $72 million in training programs for businesses in northeast Iowa!

“I didn’t know anything about machining work until I took the classes. The program made it so much easier for me to learn new things once I got the job. I’m learning every day.”
-Justin Beck

Business and Community Solutions offers a variety of credentialing opportunities to benefit area employers and middle-skill job seekers. For example, the division offers certification programs in welding, computerized numerical control (CNC), advanced manufacturing, information technology and healthcare. NICC developed the certification programs in direct response to the skills and credentials employers are seeking, with the goal of latticing the certificates into NICC credit programs for students to earn a degree or diploma later on.

Certification opportunities – whether they are daylong, weeklong or advanced four-month training commitments – are making a difference in the employment prospects for students of all ages. Recent high school graduates, such as Justin Beck of Dubuque, are finding great local employment that pays well, offers benefits and opportunities for advancement.

Beck completed the Introduction to Advanced Manufacturing CNC certification program at the College’s Peosta campus in 2012 and immediately found a full-time job at Decker Precision Machining, also in Peosta. Beck is now a full-time CNC basic machinist at Decker whose work tasks include parts manufacture, monitoring change offsets in various parts and quality control.

“I’m fortunate because I know a lot of my friends from high school aren’t employed right now, and I really like this job,” said Beck. “I do a little bit of everything at the shop, and the NICC certification program helped because I didn’t know anything about machining work until I took the classes. The program made it so much easier for me to learn new things once I got the job. I’m learning every day,” he said.

Other certification programs address middle-skill workforce shortages in the healthcare field. The Bridges2Healthcare program at NICC offers leading edge instruction for students preparing for healthcare careers, and the grant making this possible is only one of 32 projects nationwide to receive U.S. Department of Labor TAACCCT funding in its first year. Eight other community colleges and 25 employers in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are also partners with the College, and their workforce mission is to qualify 3,000 graduates for careers in the healthcare field.

Bridges2Healthcare offers a unique opportunity because the initiative focuses on both the non-credit, certification side coordinated through Business and Community Solutions and the College’s academic credit programs. This overlap is evident in Bridges2Healthcare programs that offer Pharmacy Technician certification and Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) credentials and the new Medical Assistant program at the Peosta campus which awards an academic degree or diploma to students upon completion. Other grant-funded technologies benefit non-credit and credit students alike.

The Bridges2Healthcare grant will provide NICC with health simulation labs at both the Calmar and Peosta campuses and will greatly enhance student learning and career preparation. In addition to nursing students, the labs will be utilized by Emergency Medical Technician, Respiratory Care and Radiologic Technology students. NICC will also use the simulation labs to provide advanced training for ongoing, non-credit training for healthcare professionals throughout northeast Iowa. This technologically advanced instruction employs high-fidelity simulators, or mannikins, in a variety of programmable healthcare scenarios. The mannikins behave as real human beings that breathe, bleed, form secretions, give birth and exhibit other physiological responses as part of each student’s learning.

NICC Business and Community Solutions provides a wealth of opportunities for community members and area employers, and thousands of individuals turn to this innovative division annually for their job skills needs, certification and recertification requirements and to take personal interest classes for enjoyment.

To learn more, visit www.nicc.edu/solutions.

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