Recent program graduate, Michael Douglas, commented that the masonry construction program was life changing for him. “I fit in instantly and liked the brotherhood. I was about to give up on college and came into this. It’s one course at a time and we got there,” said Douglas.
100 percent of the class of 2014 enjoyed job placement right out of college, highlighting deep demand for skilled labor
Iowa faces a critical shortage of skilled workers.
Long-time Kirkwood Masonry Construction program instructor, Joe Luchtenburg, indicates that as the housing and construction industries steadily recover and many workers retire, we are seeing a very high demand for workers here in the Creative Corridor.
“All of this year’s Masonry graduates were snatched up right away. There is a huge demand right now,” said Luchtenburg.
According to recent state job data from Iowa Workforce Development, there are 711 masonry jobs throughout Kirkwood’s seven county region, with about 34 annual openings per year. That number is expected to skyrocket to 830 by 2019.
Kirkwood’s Masonry Construction program teaches students skills that reach back to the pyramids of Egypt and great European cathedrals, while also reflecting the latest advancements in energy conservation and modern “smart buildings” technologies. The nine-month diploma program spans two semesters, and prepares students to enter the bricklaying trade. Classroom experience intertwines with intensive hands-on instruction, an instructor-lead internship and masonry field experience at the end of the program.
Throughout Luchtenburg’s tenure with Kirkwood, he and his students have created a vast list of projects in and around the Creative Corridor, including improvements to Kinnick Stadium, the Coralville Marriott Hotel and other River Landing district elements; the main fire station on First Avenue in Cedar Rapids; baseball dugouts for Lisbon Community Schools and Washington Community Schools; and most recently, the Iowa Sustainability Village at Kirkwood Community College.
“I can’t comment enough on how much of a critical gap there is in the number of workers available compared to the demand,” Luchtenburg said. “Part of what makes our students so desirable is Kirkwood’s industry advisory board, made up of representatives from local businesses, that helps craft students for a perfect fit to available, local jobs.”
Members of Kirkwood’s advisory board provide essential guidance to Kirkwood faculty and administration, helping to build curriculum and teach students the exact skills needed to be hired locally.
For more information about Kirkwood’s Masonry Construction program, contact Jeff Mitchell, Dean of Industrial Technologies at Kirkwood Community College, 319-398-4984.