Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Business and Community Solutions, and Workforce Education

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NICC_workforce_edNortheast Iowa Community College’s (NICC) delivery of education and training designed for professional development, business training, skills enhancement, licensure and leisure has evolved tremendously since the College’s founding in 1966.

Typically known as continuing education, classes for which traditional college academic credit is not usually awarded, the Business and Community Solutions division’s work in offering these valuable educational opportunities to the public has been anything but typical for the past 50 years.

What exactly is meant by continuing education, then? The College’s continuing education and career pathway training programs embrace the importance of lifelong learning for all community members and professionals. For example, when new legislation, advanced technologies and regulatory changes impact industries and occupations, Business and Community Solutions introduces coursework to help existing employees stay current.

Take the Lead. Develop the talents of your employees.

As we envision the next 50 years, changes in technology, regulation and community needs will impact nearly every industry, necessitating a way for employers and employees alike to access continuing education: National Electrical Code (NEC) Book revisions; changes in real estate or cosmetology regulations; healthcare legislation; and the latest safety guidelines for Iowans who want to stay at the top of their game as high school coaches.

Through the years, Business and Community Solutions has flexed with the times and customized its training programs to look toward the future and to meet the specific training needs of individuals, businesses and organizations.

Our region’s professionals are the most mobile, accessible employees in a generation, and Business and Community Solutions delivers its training on-site at any company in northeast Iowa, customized to a company’s needs. NICC provides training, both on-campus and off, in Industrial Spray Painting simulation, portable Fanuc robotic welding, or information technology systems, such as Crystal Reports, ITIL Foundations, Java, Linux Fundamentals, Project Management and VMWare Horizon Suite 6.

The NICC Business and Community Solutions philosophy of outreach to companies for their training and programming needs is not only affordable, it is a key reason that many businesses outside of the state relocated their operations to northeast Iowa.

Sedgwick’s expansion to Dubuque is a prime example. When the company was researching possible locations for its new service center, one of the most important business decisions its consultants had to make was deciding upon a business-friendly climate that offered cost-effective training for new employees.

As a global leader in disability and family leave claims management for companies all over the world, Sedgwick determined that the State of Iowa’s approach to welcoming new business, expansion and business growth made the most sense, according to Steve Duscha, a consultant for Sedgwick who is based in Sacramento, Calif.

In 2006, Sedgwick completed construction of its new facility in Dubuque. By utilizing funds through the 260E Iowa New Jobs Training Program and coordinating its efforts with NICC Business and Community Solutions, the company launched its first phase of 73 new jobs. Sedgwick sought additional assistance through the program with NICC and expanded its workforce again in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013. In all, the $3.1 million in 260E training certificates coordinated by the College for the company’s expansion have brought its headquarters to full capacity with 570 employees.

“Sedgwick was impressed with the skilled workforce in the Dubuque area, and was also influenced by the 260E training incentive through Iowa and Northeast Iowa Community College. With these funds, Sedgwick provided training for new employees in computer systems and processes, client needs, customer service, legal requirements, teamwork, quality assurance and other topics,” Duscha expressed.

For employers looking for workers with specific skill sets, underemployed workers who want to earn more, professionals who seek certification or a career change, and local businesses who need employee training that matches their needs, NICC Business and Community Solutions has the customized answer. To learn more, visit!


The College’s continuing education and career pathway training programs embrace the importance of lifelong learning for all community members and professionals.

Our region’s professionals are the most mobile, accessible employees in a generation …

NICC_Jake_PalenProfile: Jake Palen
Business and Community Solutions Student Gains Edge with Robotic Welding Training

The common argument that robots will replace American workers in manufacturing environments, essentially taking jobs away from human beings, is not an accurate depiction of this technology in the workplace, according to Jake Palen, of Dubuque, who completed a robotic welding training certificate at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) in 2015.

Palen was one of a five-member Business and Community Solutions training team from Camso that completed the training program at NICC. The certificate graduate welcomes the introduction of robotic technology to his workplace for a simple reason – robots make his work easier.

“I’m seeing the need to bring in more robots at Camso, and that’s really my focus right now. That seems to be where manufacturing operations are going,” Palen explained. “Robotics are far more efficient than employees, they automate repetitive tasks with fewer errors and, as a team leader, I’m seeing this as the future.”

Palen praised the customized, student-focused approach that his instructors applied to classroom and hands-on training.

“The instructor we had at NICC was excellent and really knew his subject matter. I would write questions I had down, and he would answer them right away,” Palen said, who currently supervises and leads 10 employees at work and understands that emerging technological advancements demand ongoing training to stay ahead of the curve. “I would even like to teach welding at the College someday, too.”

Robotic welding training programs through NICC Business and Community Solutions can impact efficiency and productivity for local manufacturing companies, and students of all skill levels can benefit from robotics training. For more information, visit

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