Kirkwood to offer short-term production operator training

The following article was originally published by the Cedar Rapids Gazette on Thursday, April 18th.

Kirkwood Community College plans to roll out an improved manufacturing certification training program, after feedback from Corridor businesses.

Kirkwood Community College plans to roll out an improved manufacturing certification training program, after feedback from Corridor businesses.

The production operator training certificate program is scheduled for 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, June 3 through July 2.

Program participants also would earn industry-recognized forklift, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and CPR/AED — cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator — credentials.

Tuition will be $1,899, with financial assistance available for qualifying individuals.

Amy Lasack, Kirkwood senior director of corporate training, said a minimum of eight people will need to enroll in the program for Kirkwood to offer the classes.

“We would really like to have 16 people sign up for the program,” Lasack said. “We know the evening hours for the class will require a time commitment for those with families, but we feel the opportunity for better pay and benefits will justify the commitment.”

Kirkwood ran a pilot this past autumn, then spoke with businesses to improve the program — including enhancing “the math portion” — Lasack said.

Corridor employers supporting the program include ACP Inc., ADM, Cargill, CCB Packaging, Centro, Ingredion, International Paper, KapStone, Midwest Metal Products, Newell Machinery, PMX, Sadler Machine, Timberline Manufacturing and Whirlpool Amana.

“One of the things we heard from employers was the need to know the students a little bit more,” Lasack said. “By the end of the class, they would know who would stick with them. The students also would know what each company did and whether they wanted to work in that environment.”

Kirkwood is working with the employers to do some in-class presentations and network with the students. Lasack said the possibility of job shadowing by students was discussed, but some of the employers — particularly those involved with food processing — face safety restrictions that prohibit the practice.

“We have asked those employers to figure out a video we can share with the students,” Lasack said. “We’ve also suggested that production operators come in to talk with students, rather than just human-resources directors.”

Many of the employers supporting the program need to fill open positions. Individuals who successfully complete the program should be able to land a manufacturing job fairly quickly, Lasack said.

Two information sessions are being offered later this month to provide more information about the training program, as well as share details about tuition assistance, earnings potential and the employers involved.

The information sessions will be 1 to 3 p.m. April 25 at the IowaWORKS office in Lindale Mall, 4444 First Ave, NE, Cedar Rapids, and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 30 at the Kirkwood Continuing Education Training Center, 101 50th Ave. SW, also in Cedar Rapids.