By: Jake Slobe of Clay & Milk

Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, IA. (Photo courtesy of flicker).


Iowa’s community colleges and Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) are partnering on a new consortium that will support the manufacturing sector in adapting to “Industry 4.0”—the automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology.

The new consortium includes key state associations and agencies who have agreed to partner for the best interest of manufacturing businesses. The collaboration will implement an education and awareness strategy statewide that will lead to the development of a curriculum to meet the 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.

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. According to the report, 226,000 Iowans work in more than 4,100 manufacturing establishments across the state. These thousands of workers and the products they manufacture make up $30 billion (17%) of Iowa’s GDP.

This partnership will respond to workforce, training and education needed to help manufacturers strategically address technology investments, workforce pipeline, and workforce talent challenges. The consortium will support Iowa manufacturers’ efforts to seize opportunities and remain competitive by providing consultation, education, implementation and access to resources.

“Iowa’s 15 Community Colleges continue to lead the way in innovative and forward-thinking curriculum and training to meet the state’s workforce needs,” said Emily Shields, executive director of the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees. “This initiative will allow us to collaborate with experts and other partners to benefit Iowa’s economy.”

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 late last month to set goals and timelines.


Iowa community colleges, CIRAS announce statewide manufacturing technology consortium