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Story County launches job retraining program


The Story County Board of Supervisors voted this week to create a program to help retrain county residents for jobs in high-growth industries.

Under the “Story County COVID-19 Workforce Retraining Program,” approved on Tuesday, the county will support the retraining of at least 400 Story County residents.

“The Workforce Retraining Program is a great initiative that Story County is proud to support,” said board Chair Lisa Heddens. “This program, which provides education and training in highly needed skill areas, will further assist in meeting the employment needs throughout Story County.”

The training will be offered for free to those who qualify. Participants will also be able to access wrap-around services, such as transportation and child care, to assist in their participation in the program. In addition to wraparound services, participants will be offered a stipend.

“We don’t want any barriers to people taking these classes,” said Brenda Dryer, senior vice president of the Ames Chamber of Commerce, which will administer the program and provide quarterly reports to the supervisors.

The plan calls for short-term certificate training through Des Moines Area Community College in the areas of certified nursing assistant, manufacturing production technician, welding, construction, maintenance/electrician technician, patient intake and billing, and phlebotomy over the next 3½ years.

While people must be Story County residents to participate, they are not required to accept a job in the county after completion, although Dryer said that would be encouraged.

The estimated cost of the program is $192,400 a year and will be paid for in part with Future Ready Iowa and American Rescue Plan Act funds. The total amount funded over the 3½ years is estimated at $610,450. No local money is being allocated.

“This is an incredibly exciting partnership that will have positive and life-changing impacts for years to come,” board Vice Chair Latifah Faisal said.

Dan Culhane, president and CEO of the Ames Chamber of Commerce, said the program will help address the workforce question, which is the No. 1 concern expressed by regional employers.

He said there is a mismatch of skills between those who are unemployed and the qualifications that are needed for jobs that are going unfilled in the manufacturing, construction and medical sectors.

“These efforts will impact our Story County residents that need a better job, our local business and industry, and our communities,“ Culhane said.

Photo courtesy of Des Moines Area Community College welding program

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