BETTENDORF – As business and industry evolve at an ever-increasing pace, the next wave of change in the form of digitalization and automation, known as “Industry 4.0,” will require new processes for businesses and new skills for employees.

Eastern Iowa Community Colleges has joined with Iowa’s Community Colleges and the Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service to announce a new consortium to support the manufacturing sector in adapting to these changes. The training and awareness initiative includes partners from across the state.

“Iowa has the right mix of relationships and resources to help our manufacturers remain competitive through a global technology revolution that is transforming factory floors and jobs,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds. “This important partnership addresses a critical need identified in the state’s Manufacturing 4.0 strategic plan by uniting key education and industry stakeholders in a comprehensive effort to prepare workers with the skills they need in an increasingly digital economy.”

A January report from the Iowa Economic Development Authority “Seizing the Manufacturing 4.0 Opportunity: A Strategic Plan for Iowa’s Manufacturing Industry” called for advancing the knowledge base, expertise, and collaboration among businesses in the state. This partnership will respond to workforce, training/education and integration needs to help manufacturers strategically address technology investments, workforce pipeline, and workforce talent challenges. The Consortium will support Iowa’s manufacturers efforts to seize opportunities and remain competitive by providing consultation, education, implementation, and access to resources.

“EICC looks forward to working with area manufacturers to help them benefit from Manufacturing 4.0 support and resources,” said Paula Arends, Eastern Iowa’s Director for Continuing Education and Professional Development. “This is a large-scale statewide effort that can really have a huge impact on how we manufacture in Iowa.”

The Consortium includes key state associations and agencies who have agreed to partner for the best interest of manufacturing businesses. This unique collaboration will implement an education, awareness strategy statewide and that will lead to development of curriculum to meet training needs of all sizes of manufacturing businesses throughout Iowa. In addition to customized training for the existing workforce, the group will develop and enhance certificate, diploma, and degree programs to ensure employers have access to advanced skills training and career pathways now and in the future.

Additional Consortium Partners include:

● Association of Business and Industry

● Iowa Department of Education

● Iowa Economic Development Authority

● Iowa Workforce Development

● Professional Developers of Iowa

● Institute for Decision-Making, University of Northern Iowa

The Consortium began meeting in April to set goals and timelines.

A local action team met in August to begin planning a roll out to area industry in September. Action team members include Christine Caves (Quad City Chamber of Commerce), Erin Cole (Clinton Regional Development Corporation), Martha Garcia-Tappa (IowaWORKS), David Heiar (Jackson County Economic Alliance), Brian Kelly (Clinton Community College), Lisa Neason (Eastern Iowa/Western Illinois Advanced Manufacturing Sector Board, Mandy Parchert (Eastern Iowa/Western Illinois Advanced Manufacturing Sector Board, Tami Petsche (Quad City Chamber), Jeremy Pickard (Muscatine Community College), Erik Reader (Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry), Angela Rheingans (DeWitt Chamber and Development Company), Matt Schmit, (Scott Community College), Andy Sokolovich (Clinton Regional Development Corporation), Jeff White (CIRAS), and Paula Arends (Eastern Iowa Community Colleges).

For additional information on local efforts or to learn more about Manufacturing 4.0, contact Arends at parends@eicc.edu.

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