VTC Awarded Mobile Construction Lab Grant

The Greater Iowa City Area HBA Vocational Training Council (VTC) has been awarded a $5,000 Future Ready Iowa Employer Innovation Fund grant, one of 13 issued by the state for 2021.

Helping Iowans
The purpose of the matching-grant program is for employers, community leaders and others to carry out creative solutions that address local workforce issues and develop regional workforce talent pools. More specifically, it is designed to support innovative ways in helping Iowans achieve training and education goals. This includes postsecondary for-credit and noncredit courses for high-demand jobs.

“We are incredibly excited to receive the Future Ready Iowa grant,” said VTC President Adam Hahn of Watts Group. “It enables the VTC and area educators to provide students opportunities they otherwise would not have and expand the building industry’s future workforce.”

Grant money is being used to repair and fully outfit the VTC’s existing trailer to create a Mobile Construction Lab (MCL) for local students. A letter-writing campaign to Iowa City Area HBA members requesting donations achieved the VTC’s $5,000 match.

Problem Solved
Through its Student-Built House initiative with Kirkwood Community College, the VTC realized tool and equipment availability challenges. There were not enough tools for students, making it difficult for all to engage at the same level. The MCL provides a solution for this problem as it will be stocked with enough tools and equipment to outfit 20 students simultaneously, facilitating participation in hands-on, skilled-trades activities throughout the community.

“The goal is to introduce students to trade careers through first-hand experiences and encourage further education and training through local companies and/or enrolling in one of Kirkwood’s Certified Trade Programs,” said Iowa City Area HBA President GT Karr with Sueppel’s Siding & Remodeling. “The MCL opens doors for showing students professions in plumbing, electrical, HVAC, carpentry and more, sparking interest to pursue a trade and fill workforce voids.”

Iowa Workforce Development currently projects a short-term need of 290 skilled workers for the construction of buildings in the state through Q2 of 2022 and 2,580 for long-term needs through 2028.

The MCL will be available year-round, for multiple years, thereby, exponentially expanding the skilled-trades workforce development reach. Specific uses include:

  • Student-Built House program.
  • Career fairs.
  • Build My Future, a spring construction showcase for 7th– and 8th-grade students.
  • Iowa City area high schools and Kirkwood off-site Architecture-Construction-Engineering classes, including VTC-sponsored activities.

Click here to learn more about the Future Ready Iowa Employer Innovation Fund.