NICC, School Districts and Businesses Teaming Up for Students

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New partnerships between Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), school districts and local businesses are preparing high school students for great careers that are close to home.

This teamwork helped launch the Online High School Advanced Manufacturing Program offered through Clayton Ridge High School’s Iowa Virtual Academy. Available for all high school students in the district area NICC serves, the program blends online learning opportunities with on-site, hands-on activities and active engagement with local businesses.

highschoolgraph“Students need access to specialized programs that are often costly and difficult to offer in many schools across Iowa,” explains Allan Nelson, superintendent of Clayton Ridge School District. “This approach, where the schools’ districts can share a common resource and leverage online learning and the resources and knowledge of Northeast Iowa Community College, provides an option so all of our students can have the world class education necessary for the 21st Century.”

A novel component of the Online High School Advanced Manufacturing Program embraces the math teacher’s mantra, “show your work.” Students will develop their manufacturing skills in the program and be able to demonstrate their competencies by earning the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). The NCRC evaluates each student’s manufacturing skill levels; students will earn the certification after graduation from high school.

NICC is providing the technical college-level courses, technical guidance and link to the business community to ensure that the skills students develop match the needs of employers.

According to NICC President Liang Chee Wee, Ph.D., the new program was developed with Clayton Ridge, along with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry and IowaWORKS Northeast Iowa, in response to area businesses and their skilled workforce requirements.

“Our business partners have been pleading with us to help develop the workers they need for today’s advanced manufacturing industry – it requires new, higher-level skills,” Dr. Wee says. “This approach makes it realistic for all high school students to have access to courses that can lead to high-paying jobs and a bright career.”

The Manufacturing Skills Standards Council, which provides industry-certified technical training, will provide upper level courses for students who participate, who may receive both high school and NICC college credits.

An expansion of Northeast Iowa Community College’s (NICC) programs and services to the New Hampton area this year is providing new educational and professional training opportunities for the community.

The College’s introduction of a service location in the New Hampton Economic Development office, coordinated by NICC New Hampton Career Specialist Diane Diiro, is connecting community members of all ages to a variety of services, including Adult Education and Literacy programming, continuing education and programs for adult learners and college courses for area high school students.

“We have advising tools, such as the career planning guide, that are useful when talking to students about their future career and educational goals. Our local employers are so excited that I will be able to share information on great employment opportunities available here in northeast Iowa,” Dirro said.

NICC is working closely with the school districts to connect young people and local businesses, and to enhance career opportunities for young students, especially in the areas of healthcare and advanced manufacturing.

The NICC outreach location at the New Hampton Economic Development office is located at 112 East Spring St. in New Hampton. Office hours are 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information on upcoming classes and orientation sessions available through NICC, contact Diiro at 641.229.0931 or 800.728.2256, ext. 163, or

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