MASON CITY — North Iowa Area Community College is one of 60 community colleges around the nation today that hosted National Career and Technical Education Letter of Intent Signing Days. The event is designed to honor students who are entering a technical or agricultural field and to celebrate the dignity of the work in the fields of agriculture, automotive technology, building trades, diesel technology, heating and air conditioning technology, industrial mechanics and maintenance, industrial systems technology, tool and die technology, and welding.

NIACC president Steve Schulz greeted the students at what he says was a first-of-its-kind event in Iowa.  “Many of you today are choosing your profession. Similar to what you see with athletic signings when people go to college, you know that’s a four-year commitment. What you guys are doing today, men and women, is you’re making a professional decision that will pay for your life. So we’re really excited to have you here.”

Schulz says north-central Iowa employers are looking for quality students to fill skilled jobs in the future. “The job market is great, it’s absolutely fantastic. 2.5-2.6% unemployment, people are looking for folks with skills, and the good news is they’re willing to pay for those skills, so pay attention to that moving forward. There’s all kind of work available right here in north Iowa, you don’t have to leave. But it’s true across the entire country. Of course we want you to stay and be a contributor to north Iowa, but wherever you go, these skills will follow you, and they’ll pay you well.”

North Iowa Cooperative general manager Chuck Schafer told the students there’s several positions in his company that are filled by those who have studied in the CTE areas.  “We have grain originators, weigh scale operators that do counter sales, office support staff with billing and data entry. We have feed and propane delivery drivers and grain superintendents that manage the grain in the elevators. Specific to agronomy, we have feed sales agronomists that work directly with the farmer, a seed specialist and a precision farming specialist. We have an agronomy site manager that as agronomy support staff that helps with the maintenance of liquid and dry fertilizer facilities and equipment. We have custom applicators that run the sprayers and fertilizer application machines in farm fields, and do maintenance work on them in the off-season so they’re ready to go. They all have great diesel and automotive mechanical skills.”

The national event was sponsored by the National Coalition of Certification Centers, and you can view a video of today’s event below