Iowa Western Opens New IWCC Business & Community Training Site

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Iowa Western Community College on Wednesday celebrated National Apprenticeship Week by inviting stakeholders to visit its new IWCC Business & Community Training Center at 2120 23rd Ave.

Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh read a mayoral proclamation on the week, which will be observed this year from November 14-20 – the 85th anniversary of the National Apprenticeship Act. It is also the eighth time that the event is being held “to raise awareness of the important role that registered apprenticeships play in creating opportunities, by enabling apprentices to earn money while learning and providing a path to good, quality jobs and well-paying careers,” the proclamation said, in part.

The new center will serve as a training facility for those completing an apprenticeship at the college and for employees of local companies who need to improve their skills and do not have additional equipment for the trainees to use during working hours.

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Iowa Western has welding, robotics, electrical and other labs in Kinney Hall, but they’re “working at full capacity,” according to Starlyn Perdue, the college’s director of economic development.

“This gives us the opportunity to train with more companies and collaborate with PowerTech,” she said.

“The first phase is to train technicians who already have (skills) and provide certification to work on Kohler equipment,” said Josh Kallsen, president of PowerTech LLC at 2614 Railroad Highway.

In the long term, his wish is for high school students and newer employees to be certified there, he said.

Kohler will send instructors to teach employees how to work on generators using the company’s curriculum, Kallsen said. The company has donated some generators for use in training.

“The goal is for Iowa Western to prepare individuals to teach the curriculum,” he said.

PowerTech offers apprenticeships for private and commercial electricians, said Kallsen.

“We currently have about 40 or 50 trainees,” he said, mostly in Council Bluffs and Omaha.

Beginning in December, Iowa Western will provide welding training to select New Visions Homeless Services guests, Perdue said. They will be tested after training to determine their ability. Those who are willing will also receive job search instructions. Tuition is covered by Iowa’s Gap Tuition Assistance Program, and students are not required to have their own tools and equipment.

“Everyone needs a purpose, and some of these men have lost their purpose,” said Brandy Wallar, interim CEO of New Visions. “Part of our mission is to provide opportunity. We do not want anyone in our community to experience homelessness, and if they do, then only briefly. A lot of these people have welded but never received the training to do it.”

“This year we really took a look at our education,” said Matt Mancuso, executive director of economic and workforce development at Iowa Western. “We hired Alexis Johnson as our apprenticeship coordinator,” and the facility is used for apprenticeships, among other things.

“It’s really fun to see how this building comes about,” said Kallsen. “For us, trainees are the core of our entrepreneurial activities. The workforce is aging and we need young people willing to fill those positions.”

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