Officials from all 15 Iowa community colleges assembled today at the headquarters of ACT in Iowa City to announce an unprecedented opportunity to help improve the state’s manufacturing workforce. The Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (I-AM) is an Iowa community college initiative to elevate advanced manufacturing, funded through a previously announced $13 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program.
I-AM will collaboratively build training capacity by developing non-credit and credit programs to help individuals earn industry-recognized credentials, diplomas and degrees for careers in Iowa’s advanced manufacturing sector.
A key component of I-AM will be to capitalize on ACT’s Tomorrow’s Workforce Now (TWN) program, a national drive to bridge the gap in workplace skills. Designed to help place a set of proven ACT workforce solutions into the hands of business leaders and inspire collaboration among employers and community colleges, TWN also helps individuals document their strengths and earn credentials as they define a career path for their future. The I-AM initiative will target current and prospective advanced manufacturing employees through an assessment process. Additionally, any Iowa resident pursuing employment in any industry sector can take NCRC assessments at no cost as part of Gov. Terry Branstad’s Skilled Iowa Initiative.
ACT will provide assessments and nationally recognized workplace credentials to qualified individuals participating in the statewide program. ACT will support the initiative with thousands of ACT WorkKeys® assessments, through which test takers may earn the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate Plus (NCRC™ Plus).
I-AM is inviting Iowa advanced manufacturing employers to engage in the benchmarking of required occupational skills to strengthen the talent pipeline of current and future workers. Because advanced manufacturing typically involves high-tech products and processes, the skills required of workers in this segment are often more advanced than those in other settings. To secure an opportunity for participation, companies are asked to contact their local I-AM representative by May 15th.
Employer engagement in I-AM initiatives will benefit thousands of Iowans interested in a career in advanced manufacturing. Each community college will administer assessments for the program and enhance both credit and non-credit programs to support manufacturing careers. Also, hundreds of participating employers will have an opportunity to measure and benchmark the skill sets of their employees and applicants.
Manufacturing contributes the largest share of Iowa’s gross domestic product (GDP) at an annual level of $25.4 billion, or nearly 18 percent of the state’s economy. As of March 2012, Iowa’s manufacturing firms supplied 215,600 jobs to Iowans, representing 10.6% of the state’s total employment. Iowa ranks sixth among all states in the percentage of total GDP derived from the manufacturing sector.