Kirkwood Secondary Program Promotes Corridor Job Retention

Food science and biotechnology industries focus of recent event

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (April 19, 2017)-Kirkwood’s Workplace Learning Connection (WLC) recently gave 110 high school students the opportunity to tour and learn about food science and biotechnology occupations available in Iowa’s Creative Corridor. WLC promotes retention in Iowa by exposing area middle and high school students to Corridor careers.

WLC connects students to employers through job shadows, internships and special events. During the 2016-17 school year, the program served nearly 30,000 students from Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Jones, Johnson, Linn and Washington counties.

According to Kirkwood Executive Dean of Distance Learning Todd Prusha, “A few years ago alarm bells went off when we learned from the state that most four-year college students planned to move out of Iowa upon graduation. Community college graduates skewed higher in retention within our state. We felt compelled to move the needle by providing work-based learning experiences for younger students. Building stronger relationships between area employers with programs like Workplace Learning Connection are making an impact.”

Research conducted over the past five years by WLC shows that the program has influenced student career field choices by 82 percent. Awareness of career opportunities in the Corridor or Iowa was realized by nearly 88 percent.

In March WLC hosted the Food Science and Biotechnology Day, introducing high school students to one of the area’s flourishing industries. During the one-day event, students visited with company representatives and participated in rare tours of area manufacturers including Archers Daniels Midland, Diamond V, JRS Pharma, General Mills, Quaker Oats and Red Star Yeast. This was the fifth year in a row for the event because of the positive feedback by schools and manufacturers.

“This event is a great way to engage students in hands-on learning. It shows the strong presence of food and biotech careers in the Corridor, while allowing young talent to consider Iowa as a great place to work when making decisions for their future,” said Brian White, General Mills training manager.

WLC is part of Iowa’s statewide work-based learning intermediary network, established in 2014. To get involved in the program visit: www.kirkwood.edu/wlc.

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