Iowa Central is starting a new program to boost workforce

FORT DODGE — Iowa Central Community College is taking a career education program with a proven track record in the state’s high schools and bringing it to the college level.

The Fort Dodge-based college will be the first to implement the Early College Success Program in partnership with Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates, often called iJAG.

The partnership, announced Friday, will provide additional support for students who need it while training for high demand occupations that require a two-year degree.

“We want students to come to Iowa Central, finish their degrees and certifications in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of student loan debt possible so they can have a better life,” said Iowa Central President Jesse Ulrich.

“Iowa community colleges are the statewide leader in workforce training and development,” he added. “We are proud to partner with iJAG, who has a track record of success in increasing retention and graduation rates, to bring those services to students at Iowa Central to increase their potential to have a better life.”

While iJAG is new to the community college level, it has existed for 24 years. During those years, it has proven successful for students from sixth grade through their senior year in high school, plus the one year following graduation, according to Wendy Mihm-Herold, president and chief executive officer of iJAG.

“We want to continue our momentum beyond high school graduation and this pilot program will propel us to expand our reach to meet the needs of students who continue in postsecondary institutions across Iowa,” she said in a written statement. “We look forward to working closely with Iowa Central to leverage proven strategies that positively impact student engagement and performance , employer services and career preparedness to help young people discover, plan and prepare for future employment in Iowa.”

The Early College Success Program will start at Iowa Central in August with the beginning of the 2024-2025 academic year.

The curriculum will feature career readiness, on-the-job learning, projects with employers and tailored career counseling. A career success coordinator will work with the faculties of area high schools and the college.

Iowa Central and iJAG leaders say the program will help students decide to stay and work in the state after graduation. A report released by Iowa Workforce Development showed that 82.2 percent of graduates who plan to stay in Iowa know what they want to do for a living. The program is expected to help students gain confidence in their career choice, making it easier for them to decide to stay and work in Iowa.

Community college graduates have already been shown to be more likely to remain in Iowa as opposed to graduates of four year institutions. The study released by Iowa Workforce Development, showed community college graduates were 23.4 percent more likely to stay than graduates of public four year universities and 19.5 percent more likely to stay then graduates of private four-year colleges.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $3.46/week.

Subscribe Today