Northwest Iowa Community College in partnership with the Northwest Iowa Manufacturers group offered a manufacturing internship opportunity to area young people (age 14-19 years old) this past summer. The grant was part of the Summer Youth Internship Pilot Program (SYIPP) administered through Iowa Workforce Development. This pilot project was designed to help meet Future Ready Iowa’s goal of having 70% of Iowa’s workforce complete education or training beyond high school by 2025.
Northwest Iowa Community College’s Transitions and Workforce & Economic Development Departments submitted the grant proposal that was intended to provide the opportunity for students to explore and build awareness of careers within the manufacturing industry and teach them about available educational opportunities. This program was also designed to help expand the number of minorities working in manufacturing in Northwest Iowa; and help fill the skills gap which exists in the manufacturing industry.
Over the summer, a total of 25 area students learned about opportunities available in manufacturing and manufacturing education in Northwest Iowa. All of the students were placed in one of 15 local manufacturing industry partners in 10 different communities within 5 counties. The internships ranged from welding, quality control, human resources, and accounting all under the umbrella of careers within the field of manufacturing.
The internship started with a week-long class on NCC’s campus in which the instructor taught soft skills and the students earned their OSHA Safety Certifications. Each student was then assigned a mentor at the industry partner they would be interning at. Each mentor was a specialist in the student’s chosen career exploration field. The student and the mentor met one another and then both participated in a mentor/mentee training one afternoon. The students then needed to complete 60 hours of work at the business and they were paid an hourly wage. Each week the workplace mentor evaluated the student’s work including safety, attitude, professionalism, and communication. The instructor for the internship also visited each student’s workplace during the duration of the internship. College credit was awarded after completion of the internship.
“We were happy to be able to provide this wonderful opportunity to our local students. We feel that offering young people with more exposure to the manufacturing industry could lead to increase students’ financial upward mobility and more manufacturing jobs being filled in our area,” said Sarah Breems-Diekevers, Director of Student Development, Secondary Programs, and Transitions.
Student participants recognized the value of the internship. “The NCC Internship program has been both a fun and valuable opportunity for me. Through my time in the classroom and on the jobsite, I have been able to broaden my horizons and experience the business side of manufacturing, said Kristina Goth from Marcus. “I was paired with Den Hartog Industries (DHI) in Hospers to work in their quality department. Through this experience, I was able to gain skills that will not only help me excel in college and in the workforce, but also in everyday life. I am grateful for NCC, Den Hartog Industries, and the many other organizations that have given me this opportunity to learn, have fun, and gain valuable work experience.”
For some students, the internship leads to job offers. “I worked in the welding department at DEMCO Manufacturing, Company. I had never welded before this internship, so I learned a lot through this experience. I had a really fun time. I was really excited that DEMCO Manufacturing offered me a job after my internship was over,” said Keon DenHoed from Boyden. “Besides learning how to weld, one of the big take-aways I had was the importance of networking. I have heard about networking before, but now I feel like I understand it.”
A participating industry partner was Simply Said, Rock Rapids. Michelle Leuthold supervised the internship and felt really good about the internship program. “We hosted one intern this year. We had our intern rotate throughout the facility so she could experience what it was like to work at a manufacturing business by experiencing multiple careers. She participated in everything from working in the office to working on the floor. We felt really good about the internship program and thought it was well organized. We would be happy to participate in this program again.”
Manufacturing is Iowa’s largest industry, which is poised to add 19,000 jobs through 2025 according to the Education & Workforce Trends report from Iowa Workforce Development. Local employers are constantly fighting barriers of the consistently low unemployment rate ranging from 2.6-3.2%. The workers currently looking for jobs do not have skills that align with the openings available.
Students completed internships at:
|· Interstates — Sioux Center|
|· Demco — Boyden|
|· Valley Machining Company — Rock Valley|
|· DenHartog Industries — Hospers|
|· Coilcraft — Hawarden|
|· Sioux Automation Center — Sioux Center|
|· RJ Thomas Manufacturing — Cherokee|
|· Rosenboom Machine & Tool — Sheldon|
|· Simply Said — Rock Rapids|
|· Sekisui Aerospace — Orange City|
|· LVO Manufacturing — Rock Rapids|
|· JARD — Sheldon|
|· Silent Drive by Dexter — Orange City|
|· Maintainer — Sheldon|
|· Double HH Manufacturing — Rock Valley|
For more information about future internship programs at NCC contact Sarah Breems-Diekevers at 800-352-4907 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: (L-R): Rian, Keon, and Drew