Iowa Central Storm Lake center enrollment grows 4.6 percent for fall 2016

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Iowa Central Community College Storm Lake Center has more students this fall for yet another year.

Iowa Central Community College’s Storm Lake Campus reported a 4.6% increase in enrollment. Overall Iowa Central over all their locations had a 1.5% increase in enrollment for the Fall 2016 semester compared to Fall 2015.

Total enrollment numbers include full-time, part-time, traditional and non-traditional students.

Dan Anderson, Iowa Central Storm Lake Center Director, credits the enrollment bump — in part — to growing attention on the local high-demand high-wage career program value of a community college education and the rising concern around student debt.

“Local parents are discovering that it’s important to not be in college debt for a long time,” Anderson continues, “and to leverage their post-secondary educational dollar.”

“For a number of students coming out of high school “truly undecided” about what career path they want to pursue, Anderson states, the community college route makes a lot of economical and practical sense.”

The Iowa Central Storm Lake Center announced that college credit fall 2016 enrollments at the Storm Lake Center increased 4.6% percent from the Fall 2015 semester and that the college continues its commitment to focus on the Buena Vista County area skilled workforce needs. Anderson continues to see more students looking at courses that deliver local high-demand high-wage jobs after completion.

In the Fall 2016 semester 532 Buena Vista County residents were enrolled in Iowa Central credit courses over all the Iowa Central delivery sites and distant learning opportunities.

“Popular local high demand high wage courses of study have been in the health science and industrial career technical areas,” continues Anderson. “The nursing program at Iowa Central Community College in Storm Lake continues to thrive in a time where there is a growing shortage of trained nursing professionals. In Storm Lake, the nursing program started with 41 students as the Iowa Central fall 2016 classes began with students, routinely traveling from 25-40 miles away, who are in high demand at graduation to fill vacancies in hospitals and long-term health care facilities in a number of surrounding counties.” Anderson continues.

Other popular offerings delivering local high demand career opportunities at the Iowa Central Storm Lake Center include Accounting, Industrial Mechanical Maintenance, Teacher Education, Business, Human Services, Criminal Justice, Nurse Aide, and Computer Technology.

Another of Iowa Central’s advantages is its ability to quickly react to changing workforce needs in the region. ``We have always tried to be responsive to regional needs and when we need to change or develop curriculum to fit the needs of employers we serve,’’ states the local Storm Lake Center Director.

The recent Storm Lake Center addition of an Industrial Mechanical Maintenance with TIG Welding, Electrical & Basic Plumbing certificate program was in response to area industrial, manufacturing and value added ag-processing employer needs. The next Industrial Maintenance certificate program starts in February.

Iowa Central Community College’s service to the Buena Vista County area continued to evolve this fall as a new industrial food processing maintenance training program started in Storm Lake in partnership with the area’s largest employer, Tyson Fresh Meats. The program of study includes mechanical maintenance, pneumatics, welding, technical math, blueprint reading, hydraulics, safety, and electrical systems. Participants are hired as Tyson employees who are paid $18 an hour to attend the 9 month long industrial maintenance training program in the morning and then they put their new skills to work at the plant in the afternoon.

Iowa Central president Dr. Dan Kinney says, “Tyson approached the college to develop the training in which Tyson employees will receive instruction four hours a day while also working at the local plant. He says it will make Tyson stronger… and also make the region stronger, as about 70-percent of the jobs in rural areas need a short course certification or a two-year degree.”

Iowa Central continues to play a key role in helping students achieve their individual potential and develop skills for a fulfilling and prosperous career.

Iowa Central graduates can be found throughout Buena Vista County keeping the Hospital & Long-Term Care facilities operating, the food processing industrial lines moving and area manufacturers fabricating. Local Iowa Central graduates keep the water flowing, the electricity charging, they keep the cars & trucks on the road and the value add agriculture production firms producing.

Iowa Central Community College has long provided skilled workforce training for businesses and industries. The Community College has always been quick to respond to ongoing training needs and to develop new programs to meet the workforce needs of Buena Vista county employers. Hundreds of skill based applied technology short courses in topics like welding, water & waste water treatment, industrial mechanics, computer software, electrical & health care topics have been held over the years. As important as these economic impact short courses and programs are, the benefits of Iowa Central also extend beyond supplying skilled employees.

The Iowa Central Storm Lake Center’s Adult Basic English as a Second Language and High School Equivalency Diploma programs continue to have full classes. Since July 1, 2016 the Iowa Central Storm Lake campus served 136 ESL students and 34 HSED High School Equivalency Diploma students. In FY 2015/16 240 English as Second Language students were enrolled and 101 adults worked towards a HSED High School Equivalency Diploma. 25 adult students completed the HSED High School Equivalency Diploma in FY 2015/16.

``We also have a partnership system with the K-12 districts in our region,’’ continues Anderson.

“Local high school juniors and seniors, who are introduced to the college atmosphere, through Iowa Central’s concurrent dual credit enrollment courses and programs, often decide to continue their education at Iowa Central in Fort Dodge or Storm Lake. “We work with our area high schools to help students identify and decide on state & local high-demand high-wage career paths,” states Anderson.

In the early 1990s, Iowa Central Community College launched the high school/college dual credit/early-bird program with Buena Vista county high schools. To the parents of children who have taken advantage of our high school dual credit classes, Iowa Central means that they will have had to pay less for their child’s post-secondary college education. Hundreds of Buena Vista County High School graduates have graduated from high school with a semester or two of college credit free, which has saved their families thousands of dollars in tuition, books, fees, room and board & has allowed students to enter the workforce as salary earners earlier.

“We also had 45 Storm Lake High School students take advantage of the financial and educational benefits of the Storm Lake Charter School in the Fall of 2016,” continues Anderson. “And, with Iowa Central Community College offering more than 40 majors, it gives Charter School students an opportunity to focus on a number of different high demand local career programs.”

According to data from Iowa Workforce Development local Buena Vista County the High-Demand High-Wage career openings are in the fields of Health Care, Electromechanical Maintenance Technicians, Accounting, Machinery Mechanics, Construction and Facilities Maintenance. All of these local high-demand high-wage career & technical programs can be acquired through Iowa Central via the Charter School.

“The reality is that the majority of high-demand high-wage jobs that are in our local Storm Lake Buena Vista County service area really require a career ready certificate or a two year career & technical degree and there really are a number of good-paying local jobs in these areas,” Anderson concludes.” We have to get that message out there not only to students and parents, to better understand what’s out there, but to work closely with our local high school and middle schools to show everyone the local career choice diamonds that are available for young adults in their own backyards.”