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MCC program helping those affected by COVID-19 return to work

contributed photo A student enrolled in Marshalltown Community College’s MAKE initiative learns welding skills.

Some individuals affected by the COVID-19 have received free workforce training from Marshalltown Community College.

Applying for Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Coronavirus Employer Innovation Fund Grant, which awards money to organizations to provide fast track training to those unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic at no cost to students, Marshalltown Community College was able to create the MAKE — Manufacturing Awareness through Knowledge and Experience –Initiative.

“What we did was we looked at how we could help boost the manufacturing pipeline,” Jacque Goodman, vice chancellor of education and training said. “There’s a severe shortage in just about every sector, but our manufacturers are in desperate need and have vocalized a desperate need for employees.”

Data gathered by MCC showed the highest demand for jobs in the region is within the sector of manufacturing, with an average wage of $50,000.

Once the program was established, the next step was to find students to participate. Marshalltown Community College partnered with Marshalltown Community School District and Mid-Iowa Community Action to locate eligible participants. Twenty students were found for the MAKE initiative, ranging from different backgrounds and careers, and ages from 17 years old to up to 63.

The students enrolled in the six-week program learned anything from manufacturing fundamentals and workplace excellence to computer skills and welding.

Coming from different education backgrounds, one student had to learn to use a computer mouse for the first time, but is now participating in online classes and checking emails daily.

“Seeing with our own eyes those that grew in six weeks was a big deal,” Business Outreach Coordinator Neysa Hartzler said.

She said some students expressed to her the program gave them a sense of purpose and hope during the COVID-19 pandemic. In other students, Hartzler said she witnessed their personal confidence blossom over the course of the program.

With the main goal of the MAKE initiative to give its students an escape from poverty and the chance to earn a sustainable wage, program organizers said they feel successful with their results, as 12 students have been trained by the program.

“Even having a tiny impact on one individual or a huge impact on a couple individuals, that is success,” Goodman said. “We figure if we’re making a dent in poverty and unemployment numbers, and even helping just a few people build confidence and get to a sustainable career then we’ve done our job.”

Marshalltown Community College will continue the program in the future, and hopes to expand the length of training periods and expand training to more sectors such as construction and healthcare.

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Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611

or tbabcock@timesrepublican.com.

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