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Grand View University Taps SkillStorm to Feed Midwest Tech Industry

The Jacobson Institute at Grand View University announced a partnership with the technology training company SkillStorm to fit regional workers for available positions in growing industry. SkillStorm has similar programs at southern schools.

Tech training skills
A career development center at Grand View University (GVU) in Iowa is hoping to transform the Midwest’s reputation from flyover country to “Silicon Prairie.”

In a news release Thursday, GVU's Jacobson Institute announced a partnership with technology training company SkillStorm, which offers training on software from Salesforce, Amazon Web Services, Appian, Pega and CompTIA. As a result, the institute will offer online industry-recognized certification courses that document proficiency with those tools.

This initiative aims to strengthen Iowa’s tech talent pipeline to help fill in-demand positions in the state’s growing technology sector, Jacobson Institute Executive Director Lynn Marie Burks told Government Technology on Thursday. She said longer term, the goal is to promote innovation and economic growth in the entire Midwest region.

The list of Iowa employers seeking skilled tech-savvy workers includes Collins Aerospace, Workiva Inc., John Deere and a variety of startups in the agricultural, finance, software and health technology specialties. Most of them are seeking IT professionals and network administrators, Burks said, adding that the range of available courses covers new learners to the tech space, such as high school seniors, as well as mid-career professionals seeking to update their skills, and retirees interested in second careers.

“It’s learning at different inflection points,” she said. “But all of them [courses] are clear pathways to in-demand jobs. Employers needed these people yesterday.”

Burks said this initiative could be the start of a “rural renaissance” in that low-cost career training opportunities had been scarce in rural, low-income areas of the Midwest.

“Everyone talks about the skill gap, but they don’t do anything about it,” she said. “It’s not just about a job. It’s about a purpose.”

In a public statement, SkillStorm's Chief Operating Officer Joe Mitchell said the Midwest is poised to become the next frontier of the tech industry, and Iowa is at the center of that effort.

“This is about shaping a future-proof workforce with the skills needed to take the Midwest’s tech industry to new heights,” he said.

The Jacobson Institute at Grand View University was established in 2008. Its original mission was to improve education through innovation, but in recent years it took on the additional responsibility of trying to meet regional workforce needs and improving social mobility, according to the news release.

Colleges and universities in other states have formed similar partnerships with the Florida-based SkillStorm to bolster regional tech work forces, including Louisiana State University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Florida International University, Jacksonville University, Florida State University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of Tampa and the University of Central Florida.
Aaron Gifford has several years of professional writing experience, primarily with daily newspapers and specialty publications in upstate New York. He attended the University at Buffalo and is based in Cazenovia, NY.