For the last three years, the Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC) has been working with administrators, staff, and students at Osceola’s Clarke Community High School to build a stronger focus on career path planning and post-secondary school job opportunities.

With manufacturing, hospitality, and medical fields being the strongest employers in the county, the need to introduce students to these trades became apparent as demand for a deeper workforce grew and unemployment numbers dropped.

“We knew planning for the future was going to be beneficial for not only the students, but the businesses and professions that help support our community,” said Bill Trickey, CCDC Executive Director.

Starting with the manufacturing sector, Clarke School’s Industrial Technology instructor Mr. Dave Lyden and Trickey organized the first of three professional advisory boards. The Industrial Technology Advisory Board includes manufacturing representatives from around the county including SIMCO Drilling Equipment, Paul Mueller, Miller Products Company, Salford, Altec Osceola, Iowa Steel, Hormel. Through their support, the school has been able to acquire new, modern equipment including a 3-D printer, plasma cutter, and laser cutter as well as experienced tremendous growth in class enrollment. Participating companies like Altec also donated 11 MIG welders and computer equipment for use with Solidworks softwarethe industry standard for computer engineering and drafting.

In the last 18 months, the CCDC and instructors have established a Medical Advisory board with representatives and support from Clarke County’s award-winning hospital as well as a Hospitality Advisory board with the support from Lakeside Casino management and staff.

In the spring of 2018 students interested in a future in the medical world spent time working alongside staff and medical professionals at Clarke County Hospital. From administrative duties to lab work and patient care, the students shadowed, step-for-step, the professionals providing care to the community. The experience gave students a “real life” test of what working in these medical fields would be like. After the time spent with the professionals, the students, instructors and members from the facilities continue to meet on a monthly basis to discuss their experiences as well as the wide breadth of options available in future medical career paths.

The Hospitality Advisory board, headed by management and staff from Lakeside casino has been a great success. The advisors have worked to open students’ eyes to the exciting variety of opportunities available in the hospitality industries throughout Clarke County. From service staff to kitchen staff including cooks, chefs, and more to hotel employment, administration, marketing, and management, the students and professionals discuss what it takes to create a sustainable career in the hospitality industry. Working alongside the casino culinary staff, Clarke students will prepare a meal for an event next spring.

Finally, on Friday of last week, the CCDC brought in representatives from the Dale Carnegie to work in a half-day program with Clarke students. These focused sessions included skills training needed for future success in job searches as well as the “Soft skills” needed to maintain a successful career with the companies the students have been working with.

“We have always found that the Dale Carnegie trainings are highly applicable to the soft skills development of our future workforce,” said Jennifer Scott, Clarke School Counselor. “We were excited to bring this opportunity to our students once again.”

The students and instructors role-played and practiced skills including interpersonal communication techniques from speaking clearly and confidently to making eye contact in conversation and attentive listening. Other skills discussed and practiced included basics like disciplined scheduling and maintaining a professional attitude at work and home.

“Many of the companies we talk to emphasize the need for proper training in these soft skills,” said Trickey. “While they may seem innocuous, professional presentation and simply showing up on time go a long way to maintaining a job.”

For more information on the advisory boards and student programs the Clarke County Development Corporation and Clarke Community Schools are developing, contact Bill Trickey, CCDC Executive Director at info@clarkecountyiowa.com, call 641-342-2944 or go to www.osceolaclarkedev.com.