The college debt crisis has changed how high school students look at education. Not only are Iowa high school jobs that pay well of interest, but they’re taking a more calculated approach to school and future careers, especially as another recession awaits them. In their view, part-time work isn’t a paycheck— it’s critical experience they can bank before graduation. The Iowa Learns program, designed by DMACC and Iowa-based tech manufacturer, Accumold, fits that need.
Iowa has incredible apprenticeship programs that students take advantage of, but what of students whose interests lie outside those areas? Historically, they’d get a job that had no alignment with their future goals and upon graduation, they’d find themselves in a familiar catch twenty-two: every company wants you to have experience before you get a job, but you can’t get that experience without a job.
Iowa Learns Program changes everything. And more than that it provides Iowa high school jobs that pay well!
The Iowa Learns Program
The Iowa Learns program has multiple pathways and puts “teeth” into these students’ experience. Even if they choose not to apply their experience to a college degree, a student with a certificate of completion from the state and Des Moines Area Community College is more valuable on paper than a student whose experience is vague at best.
Accumold is pioneering this program alongside the state of Iowa, and DMACC. Some students in the program are looking to attend college, whereas others are looking for jobs with earning potential right out of high school.
Iowa high school jobs that pay well
Iowa high school jobs that pay well are hard to find, but the Iowa Learns program addresses that and combined an education component. When all graduate from high school, they may apply to become full-time staff at Accumold or choose to find a career path outside the state. In that case, their resumes will already have critical experience bumping them to the top of the candidate pool. Kolton Deaton is one of the first high school students in Iowa to be accepted into the new program. His focus is on gaining useful experience after he completes his military service.
“Most high schoolers are working retail or fast food—stuff like that. And when this opportunity came up, I saw this as an opportunity to learn something,” said Deaton who is currently attending Ankeny High School. “That way I can develop as many skills as I can for when I get out of the military in the future.”
Iowa Learns Background with DMACC
The program was a collaborative approach alongside the State of Iowa, DMACC, and Accumold. Starting last summer the labor division of the state of Iowa had reached out wondering why more students weren’t taking advantage of national apprenticeship programs designed to encourage labor participation from students. They soon discovered the available opportunities, while very beneficial, weren’t for everyone. Students with interests outside the traditional apprenticeship programs—were essentially left out.
Dr. Rob Denson, President of DMACC, Grace Swanson, CHRO of Accumold worked with the State of Iowa to create a statewide program that would give students experience in a safe environment, alongside a custom-designed educational curriculum. The result of nearly one year of work is The Iowa Learns program.
“We all collaborated to make sure this program was safe, fulfilled proper educational requirements, and provided the necessary flexibility high school students require,” said Swanson. “High school students must prioritize classwork and homework, so it was key for us to work with central Iowa high schools and DMACC simultaneously to ensure we were setting these students up for a major career boost.”
Swanson spends much of her time finding new ways to recruit the next generation of engineers and manufacturing professionals. As the state grows and Accumold’s business grows, she faces on ongoing challenge of finding skilled workers, ideally keeping them in the state of Iowa. It’s something Accumold has taken seriously for decades, starting with their Accumold scholars program that not only gives students a job, but also pays their way through specialized college programs at DMACC.
“I think it’s great that we are moving around to different areas of Accumold—it’s great that we’re moving into different areas instead of one focal point,” said Deaton. It’s also not just about the training. “It gives me a steady set income that I can rely on.”