May 21, 2024

Hubbell focuses on job training during DMACC visit

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell was back in Newton on Friday. Hubbell met with staff and administrators at Newton’s Des Moines Area Community College, a stop on his “Investing in Iowa’s Education Tour.”

The Des Moines businessman has made increased funding for education a key plank in his platform. Friday, Hubbell said he launched the tour because he wants to focus on creating more job training and education opportunities for Iowans.

“By seeing what one community is doing you can get ideas to help other communities,” Hubbell said.

Newton DMACC campus Provost Joe DeHart led Hubbell across the campus, touting some of the programs unique to the Newton location. One example is the school’s court reporting program, the only one of its kind in the state of Iowa. When business college AIB in Des Moines shuttered its doors, DMACC’s Newton campus agreed to take on the program. Graduates in court reporting, who come from all across the state of Iowa and beyond, have been quickly placed in courtrooms across the Midwest where courthouses struggle to meet a nationwide shortage for qualified court reporters. The starting salary for a court reporter averages $55,000 a year, DeHart said.

“We’ve made a commitment to that program,” DeHart said.

As Hubbell walked across the campus Friday afternoon, DeHart said DMACC’s Newton operation is constantly looking to expand. The school’s nursing program switched to an accelerated program this fall, staffing changes will allow the school to increase the number of students to 24 this year.

The nursing program isn’t DMACC’s only entre into the healthcare market. In the Newton campuses Career Academy, high school students can receive training to become Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs. Founded in 2009, the program is a partnership between DMACC and local school districts in Jasper County. High school students who attend classes at the Career Academy receive both high school and college credit. Career Academy Director Terry Norton said the programs give students a jumpstart. When they continue their education at DMACC after graduation, they already have a semester’s worth of college credit in the books.

“By going through these programs you eliminate a semester,” Norton said. “They can finish in one year at DMACC.”

Some Career Academy programs don’t even require students to continue their education. Norton said students who complete the CNA program are ready to join the workforce once they’ve finished their coursework at the Career Academy. Not only is the CNA program popular with students, Norton said there are plenty of opportunities for graduates to find work once they have their certificate.

“We get calls all the time, from retirement homes, nursing homes,” Norton said. “As fast as we can get CNAs, we can place them.”

Nearly all of the programs at the Career Academy have an exceptionally high placement rate, both Norton and DeHart said they’ve tried to focus on providing job skills that remain in demand. During Friday’s tour, Hubbell said he’d like to see communities across Iowa copy Newton’s model.

“The high schools can’t afford to do this on their own, the state’s not helping them, so they come here,” Hubbell said. “At least DMACC is helping them share this facility. We need a lot more of that around the state”

While Hubbell said he likes the way Newton’s program is working, he said he wants to increase funding to allow high schools across the state to start their own job training programs.

Unlike Newton, many of those high schools are in rural and outlying areas, where there isn’t a community college like DMACC close by to partner with. Creating those programs would also benefit adults who may be considering a career change as well.

“We’re going to have to do more career-type academies like this in the high school,” Hubbell said. “We need to make sure these high schools all have the opportunity to get this alternative pathway to their kids and also have the opportunity for adult learning.”way to their kids and also have the opportunity for adult learning.”

Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or ddolmage@newtondailynews.com