Project Lead Forward helps students prepare for the skilled workforce

MASON CITY, IA – Some local college students are going to have a more opportunities when it comes to tailoring their education.

I t’s all through a special partnership between the North Iowa Area Community College and Iowa Business Growth.

It may be quiet at the North Iowa Area Community College in the weeks before students come on campus, but for the past few months, school officials have been buzzing with excitement about a very special partnership.

Vice President of Academic and Student Affair, Dr. Lyn Broderson said, “The Dean of Continuing Education and I submitted a plant to Iowa Business Growth to help grow our skill workforce here in the area.”

It’s called Project Lead Forward. The partnership with IBG means students will have more options when it comes to brushing up on some basic skills or taking a career to the next level.

Dr. Broderson said, “Perhaps they’ve worked already in a field like welding for many years and they’re seeing the need with their employer to continue their education, so they can become a floor manager or a shop supervisor or something like that.”

Iowa Business Growth officials are also excited to begin their journey with NIACC. IBG President, Daniel Robeson says it’s a chance for them to take a different approach to creating jobs.

Robeson said, “It’s really like the other side of the table. Normally we’re using capital to finance business to create jobs, now we’re using our own capital to invest into individuals to fill jobs.”

Each year for two years, NIACC will receive a $115,000 to help students work through a three-tiered system in the hopes of building a strong workforce in an area that’s particularly important in North Iowa.

Dr. Broderson said, “We have excellent manufacturing businesses and facilities and so it’s really incumbent on all of us to try to make sure we support those individuals and make sue we have those workers ready and that way we really produce higher employability for the region.”

Robeson agrees there’s a definite need for those types of skilled workers in the state.

He said, “We got into a dialogue with them about our mission and learned that there was a shortage of skilled workers especially in rural Iowa.”

Once the semester gets underway, both NIACC and IBG are looking forward to what could be the beginning of a successful partnership for years to come.

Dr.Broderson said ,”We’re able to target this population very specifically and make sure they have all the resource available that they need and a high level of attention to the need in their course work.”

Part of the funding from IBG is already being put to good use. Right now NIACC is working on supporting career counselor training for their current counselors to help students really decide on the track that’s right for them.

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