JBS free college program looks for participants

T-R PHOTO BY TREVOR BABCOCK - JBS Marshalltown General Manager Todd Carl talks to the Marshalltown Community School District Board of Education in April about the JBS Better Futures Program providing associates degrees and trade certificates tuition free.

Recruiting for JBS Marshalltown’s “Better Futures” program is underway, with desires to increase the number of committed participants.

JBS announced in March they would begin providing employees and their dependents the opportunity to pursue associates degrees and trade certificates tuition free, paid for by the company.

Currently, 38 Marshalltown JBS employees and dependents are signed up for the Better Futures program, with 60 percent of participants being dependents and 40 percent being employees.

Marshalltown JBS General Manager Todd Carl said the company will continue to push participation in the program from now through the summer, before the first JBS employees and dependents will be taking advantage of the program.

“I think it may be happening a tick slower than we hoped,” Carl said on the amount of participants the program has attracted so far. “But when we look at the bigger picture and how we’re doing against some of the other cities and other plants, we’re right on track for where they’re at as well.”

Carl said a lot of communication and education about the program has to happen for employees to fully understand it and take advantage.

JBS Marshalltown Human Resources Director Patrick Brue said their partnership with Marshalltown Community College will build momentum for the program.

MCC employees will work onsite one to two days per week at JBS Marshalltown to assist employees with the application process, recruit more participants and answer any questions for existing participants.

MCC Provost Robin Lilienthal said when her team visited JBS Marshalltown, they saw a great level of enthusiasm from the program’s participants. She said MCC is looking forward to a strong partnership with JBS through the Better Futures program.

“I think that anytime there are scholarships or tuition remission benefits that are available to employees and their families like with the JBS Better Futures Program, it gives access to higher education that maybe wouldn’t normally be available to them,” Lilienthal said.

Brue said from speaking to individuals participating in the program, intended fields of study range from business administration to nursing to general education.

“When we look at dependents, from talking to the parents, they’re saying my kid doesn’t necessarily know what they want to, but this will give them a good start,” Brue said.

He said some employees have expressed while they aren’t participating now, they plan to in the future.

Carl said he’s proud to be able to provide the Better Futures program in Marshalltown and envisions in a couple years, hundreds of employees and their dependents will be participating.

Brue said he looks forward to attending the first ceremony where JBS employees and dependents will graduate.

“Actually being able to see that, and witness a moment of an employer or dependent being proud of what they’ve achieved and knowing that we’ve been a part of that, that’s something I’m excited about,” he said.

Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or tbabcock@timesrepublican.com.


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