A group of Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Newton Campus students have accepted full-time welding jobs at Vermeer Corporation.
“I am so happy to have a career path, employment with an excellent company and a good paying job,” said former DMACC student and Vermeer employee Bill Etter.
In May, nine DMACC students completed course work and were placed with welding jobs through a partnership between DMACC Newton Campus and Vermeer Corporation.
“The partnership has proven to be a win-win for both the DMACC students and the Vermeer Corporation,” said David Elsloo, DMACC and Vermeer Corporation Welding Instructor.
The partnership was formed to help meet the demand for welders.
“A career in welding provides tremendous opportunities,” says David Landon, Vice President of the American Welding Society and Manager of Welding Engineering at Vermeer Corporation in Pella. “There is an immediate need for skilled welders right now and by the end of the decade there will be a need for almost 240,000 new and replacement welding professionals nationally.”
Since 2011, the DMACC Career Academy on the Newton Campus has been offering a nine-week, 124-hour, non-credit Welders for Manufacturing course. All nine participants received full scholarships after passing reading, math and welding skills assessments.
“Expectations for these students are extremely high,” said DMACC Continuing Education Coordinator Darin Stevenson. “Perfect attendance, a silver level on the National Career Readiness Certificate, part of the Skilled Iowa Initiative, passing the AWS GMAW 1G welding qualification and a variety of lab and classroom performance exams are required.”
DMACC students said the training and job placement has given them a new found career path. Dani Kesteloot, a mother of two school-age children, called the DMACC experience “100 percent positive.”
“I wanted to make a career change and provide a better life for my children,” said Kesteloot. “Being trained as a welder means I have a skill that is in-demand and job security.”
Stevenson said in the last two years 38 students have completed the program and 92 percent found full-time employment.
May graduates include Jeffrey Brennecke of Baxter, Todd Butler of Knoxville, Etter of Kellogg, Schuyler Haines of Newton, Clay Harsin of Columbia, Kesteloot of Knoxville, Dylan Leslie of Knoxville, Marty McDowell of Knoxville and Matthew Saunders of Pella.