Job Ready, Willing and Able Initiative Complete
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (February 21, 2017)-Kirkwood Community College’s effort to expand training for middle-skill jobs exceeded goals with a $150,000 grant awarded by the American Association of Community Colleges (A.A.C.C.). The college was one of 17 community colleges nationwide, selected to participate in the Job Ready, Willing and Able initiative three years ago.
Middle-skill jobs make up the majority of available jobs in Iowa’s labor market. The aim of the Job Ready, Willing and Able initiative was to expand the capacity of community colleges to prepare and place students in these jobs that need training beyond high school. To acquire the grant, schools were required to project numbers served.
The college established its goals based upon the performance of other programs for underserved populations. The Kirkwood Pathway for Academic Career Education and Employment (K.P.A.C.E.) program was one such program. K.P.A.C.E facilitates personalized training for in-demand job fields like business, healthcare, information technology, transportation and manufacturing. It is designed to eliminate employee shortages, while improving the number of people earning a livable wage.
According to Kirkwood Student Program Developer Judy Stoffel, “Kirkwood piloted the P.A.C.E. program for the state of Iowa. Due to the exciting initial outcomes we decided to use the A.A.C.C. grant to further promote the program.”
In the last three years Kirkwood achieved 110 percent of its goal enrolling 658 in training. At the closing of the project, 508 students completed training (10 percent above projection). Students in this project received career services to assist them in securing employment post training. Forty percent of students are presently in training, receiving career services to support positive employment outcomes, or opted not to report their employment outcomes. Of the 306 students who completed training and reported obtaining employment, 76 percent had increased wages.
“Don Hummer Trucking has been working with Kirkwood since 2014 to connect drivers and diesel technicians with jobs,” said Dena Boelter, director of Human Resources & Recruiting for Don Hummer Trucking. “In the past three years, we’ve hired 36 Kirkwood students who have seamlessly transitioned into our organization. These students come to us equipped with the skills needed to succeed.”
Kim Becicka, vice president of Kirkwood Training & Outreach Services stated, “I’m not surprised we exceeded our expectations for the Job Ready, Willing and Able initiative. We work hard to understand the needs of area employers. This initiative was a progression of what Kirkwood has been doing for 50 years.”