More than 1,300 John Deere workers have been laid off since the fall of 2014 because of a decline in farm equipment sales. Many of those workers have an opportunity to obtain job skills and training at the new Dislocated Worker Transition Center* in Waterloo, where a grand opening was held last week.
The center, located on Hawkeye Community College’s Main Campus, was established as part of a collaborative effort to assist displaced workers in Waterloo and Ankeny. Iowa Workforce Development applied for a National Dislocated Worker Grant (NDWG) through the United States Department of Labor, and the funds were awarded June 30, 2015. The $3,058,322 grant will assist up to 650 workers with career and employment-related services and training. This is the first time Iowa Workforce Development, Hawkeye Community College, United Auto Workers Local 838, and John Deere have partnered to implement a NDWG.
“Opportunities for skilled workers in Iowa are at an all-time high,” said Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development.
“Given low unemployment and the need for skilled workers, this transition center provides incredible resources for these workers to get the training they need for a new career,” she added.
Dr. Linda Allen, President of Hawkeye Community College, is hopeful that the college atmosphere will inspire workers to learn new skills for a fresh start.
“Hawkeye Community College has a long history of serving the workforce needs of our community and we are honored to be a partner in this important outreach initiative. Today marks the beginning of a coordinated effort to change lives by preparing these workers for new careers in high-demand areas. Their future success in the workplace and their renewed sense of confidence is of paramount importance to all of us as community partners.”
United Auto Workers Local 838 represents the bargaining unit employees of Deere’s Waterloo plants. UAW Local 838 President Tom Ralston said while the John Deere job losses affect the entire community, he’s optimistic for the future.
“We celebrate the contributions these workers have made, and are hopeful for their collective futures as they continue to provide for their families and contribute to our local economy,” he said.
The grant will be used to provide employment-related, career development services that may include attainment of high school equivalency, basic skills training, career/job skills training, individualized case management and career counseling.
Dislocated workers who want to utilize the center’s services can call 319-296-4016 or visit the center in Buchanan Hall’s Advanced Technology and Business Center on the Hawkeye Community College Main Campus, 1501 S. Orange Road, Waterloo, Iowa.