Kirkwood Gets Support to Train Customer Contact Professionals

College’s List of Short-term Certificate Programs Offered Grows

Kirkwood Community College is partnering with eight local companies to train regional residents in professional customer service and customer contact skills to compete for great careers within the financial services and customer service industry. The Customer Service Professional Certificate is the newest of 46 short-term certificate programs offered at Kirkwood.

The customer service representative occupation is one of the fastest growing occupations in the Creative Corridor. This occupation provides excellent career opportunities and career ladder potential for individuals. GEICO, Great America Financial Services, Infinity Contact, Nordstrom, RuffaloCODY, Toyota Financial Services, Transamerica and US Cellular are supporting Kirkwood’s new program and are keenly interested in the graduating students. “We are always seeking the best candidates possible to fill our employment opportunities. This training provides a pipeline of candidates that enhances their likelihood of success on the job,” Senior Human Resources Manager Jennie Wildman, Infinity Contact.

Employers have been intimately involved in the development of Kirkwood’s training program and will also be present at times in the classroom. According to Kim (Johnson) Becicka, vice president of Kirkwood Continuing Education and Training Services, “Industry partners have worked with us directly, so we have a clear understanding of the needs of these employers. Changes in technology, products, and customer requirements have greatly impacted the duties and skill level requirements for these positions.” Becicka says local business partners are committed to this training in two ways. “First, they have invested time, company knowledge and resources into designing the certificate program. Second, they are committed to the industry’s economic impact in the Creative Corridor. They will bring their companies’ credibility, visibility, and job opportunities to program graduations.”

Kirkwood’s Customer Service Professional Certificate awards a certificate credential that is recognized by regional employers. The certificate provides education and training in jobs with multiple career opportunities. Tuition assistance for this program is available through Iowa’s GAP fund for qualifying students. Childcare and transportation support for qualified students may also be available through other funding sources. Training is located at RuffaloCODY in Kirkwood’s customer service telephony lab, which is a simulated customer service and call center environment.

Becicka emphasizes the program will have a limited number of students per session, due to the very concentrated curriculum. “The content of the training is based on current industry standards, certification requirements and skill requirements. The training facility provides a real-world customer contact center environment for students. About 200 hours of the training will include direct customer service, phone and technology systems simulations and workplace skills. Sixty hours are dedicated to specialty skill areas of collections and sales. Our graduates will have a clear understanding of how the industry works and the skills needed. They will be able to demonstrate skill attainment to regional employers and increase their competitive standing when applying for positions.”

For more information about the training program contact Erin Brokel at erin.brokel@kirkwood.edu or 319-398-7796.

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