Kirkwood, Manufacturing Sector to Promote Career Awareness

Kirkwood Community College, Workplace Learning Connection, and the Advanced Manufacturing Sector Board have partnered to facilitate tours of manufacturers, Oct. 14-18, during the 7th annual Advancing the Future event. Several different ICR manufacturing companies will be participating in public and school tours with the goal of educating people about job opportunities and positive changes in the industry. 


This year’s event is expected to attract a record number of attendees from within Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Jones, Johnson, Linn, and Washington counties. A total of 20 participating manufacturers will open their doors for area middle and high school student tours. The general public will have 10 separate company tours to choose from over the course of the five days.


“Advancing the Future is all about growing the local talent pipeline,” said Kirkwood Program Developer and Advanced Manufacturing Sector Board Facilitator Barb Rawson. “We want to create awareness among the public so they’ll understand how many well-paying job opportunities are right here in ICR. Just two years at Kirkwood can lead to an amazing future in the advanced manufacturing industry.”


Since 2011, Kirkwood has been working with manufacturing employers, economic development agencies, and community-based organizations through sector partnership. The collaboration has proven to be fruitful, as it has given local manufacturing companies the opportunity to interact with a large number of potential employees and continue to grow their workforce pipeline. 


There are currently more than 500 manufacturing companies in the seven-county region, employing more than 30,000 people. However, Iowa’s low unemployment rate means many positions still aren’t being filled. Rawson says many high-paying positions could be filled by younger members of the workforce, but they may have negative misconceptions about the industry. 


“We want to dispel the myths about the dirty, grungy, and backbreaking work,” said Rawson. “For example, much of the heavy lifting is being done by automation and robotic arms. Employers are also working to provide more work/life balance and incorporate a family culture.”


Advancing the Future is a free event. For a list of participating manufacturers, tour map, dates and times, visit



With the most credit programs of any community college in Iowa, Kirkwood Community College boasts nearly 20,000 annual college-credit students, while maintaining one of the lowest tuitions in the state. All students are eligible for federal financial aid and the college offers more than $3 million in scholarships each year to students from all walks of life. Kirkwood is a convenient, innovative and visionary educational leader that strives to remain affordable and accessible.

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