Students Gain Experience, Business Finds Employees with DMACC, Accumold Partnership Program

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  From the White House to the State Capitol, leaders are trying to fill what are known as the middle skill jobs.

“More than 60% of all Iowa jobs require more than  a high school degree, but no more than a one or two year education.  We call them middle skill jobs.  I call them great jobs,” said DMACC President Rob Denson.

Craig Tappe says he landed one of those great jobs.  He works in the tool room at Accumold in Ankeny.

“Some of the most accurate things in the world go on in this building,” said Tappe.

Tappe builds the steel molds that other companies will use to make plastic parts for everyday products, from mobile to medical devices.

“Where pacemakers used to be the size of a silver dollar, now they're the size of a Tic Tac,” said Roger Hargens, President and CEO of Accumold.

Right now, the micro business is huge.  The company is expanding and growing its workforce with the help of the Accumold Scholars Program.

“What we wanted to do is reinvigorate the program at DMACC.  Not only for us, but for all manufacturers,” explained Hargens.

Students like Tappe, who qualify for the program, are paid to go to school.

“Oh yeah, it's awesome.  Free tuition and you get a part time job here while you're in school,” he said.

After earning a degree from DMACC, he had a full time job waiting for him.

DMACC’s Scholars program is designed to train a company’s workforce.  The school is working with about 20 companies in the Des Moines area.

“Iowa has got to be dead serious about providing these companies that want to grow or come into Iowa with a qualified workforce.  It used to be when these site selectors came around it was location, location, location.  Now it's workforce, workforce, workforce,” said Denson.

It's an important factor that the school is learning to work with as Iowans work together to meet the challenge of training a new workforce in the state.