Kirkwood offers short-term training to put people in high-demand careers

Aiming to fill a shortage of skilled workers in a the local job market, Kirkwood Community College is teaming up with 11 local manufacturing companies to get people the skills they need to get hired quickly.

Last October, the college reached out to local employers that hire computer numerical control (CNC) machinists, and learned they can’t find enough CNC workers to fill open positions.

“There is a shortage of trained personnel for many jobs across the manufacturing sector right now,” said Paul Hess, Advanced Manufacturing Sector Board chair. “Working closely with Kirkwood, we can help address the technical skill-shortage that exists in our region, and the college can work to train students to meet local industry needs.”

This new CNC training certificate is an outgrowth of the work put in by the sector board and Kirkwood, addressing the gap between the specific skills employers are looking for and those that job applicants have.

“When local employers work together with the college, that’s how we can best address the challenge of this skills gap,” said Kim Johnson, Kirkwood vice president of Continuing Education and Training Services. “These 11 companies were adamant they needed employees soon, and we’re confident in partnering with them we’ll be able to help fill that gap.”

Kirkwood’s Continuing Education division teamed up with the 11 companies to design, implement and help fund this training program. The result is a short-term certificate program that will put people to work, but also transfer to the CNC Machining program on the credit-side of the college, so students can turn their training into an Associate of Applied Science degree.

“As we looked at the data supplied by the employers, it appeared that we could create an accelerated CNC program that would align perfectly with four of the National Institute of Metalworking Skills credentials,” said Johnson. “Putting these students on a path to credential attainment verifies to these local companies that the skills being taught are what’s needed in the industry.”

These short-term training sessions start February 25. They are broken up into four, four-week modules, running Monday-Thursday from 1:30-5:30 p.m. The cost is $845 per module or $3000 for all four. Tuition help is available.

“Kirkwood’s CNC Machining program is a direct result of many of these local companies and the Advanced Manufacturing Sector Board in our area,” said Kirkwood Industrial Technologies Dean Jeff Mitchell. “The time and resources they’ve given us have helped create our innovative program. From our curriculum to the machines we train on, the input from these companies has helped us prepare students to find work here locally.”

This short-term training program is very similar to one the college created last fall to meet welding and CNC employee shortages in Jones County.

“Working with these manufacturers in Jones County was and continues to be a win-win for the region,” said Johnson. “We have been able to get people skills to get hired, and fill open positions that were keeping companies from operating at an optimal level. We anticipate the same successes with this training program.”

The 11 local manufacturing companies working with Kirkwood on this certification agreed to give tours of their plants, participate on employer panels and will interview students at the end of the training. Supporting employers include: Barnes Manufacturing Services, Bentley Manufacturing & Machine Shop, Boyens Machining, Centro, CIVCO Medical Solutions, Crystal Group, In Tolerance, Kinze Manufacturing, Modine Manufacturing, MSI Mold Builders and TSF Structures.

Interested students need to attend an orientation on Tuesday, February 19. For more information or to register for the orientations, call 319-398-7685 or email

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