Even in the middle of a global pandemic, the manufacturing sector in the Perry area continues to boom, and high-paying jobs await skilled workers. Next week’s Perry-centered career fair, sponsored by Perry Economic Development Inc. (PEDI) and DMACC Perry, will bring together employers and potential employees in a two-day recruitment event.
Wiese Industries, Percival Scientific, Tyson Fresh Meats and the Progressive Foundry have all announced or recently completed infrastructure expansions that total more than 100,000 square feet of additional space to support their growth. Tyson Fresh Meats, for instance, spent $23 million in updating their waste water treatment system due to continued increases in production.
One major piece of this continued growth is the need for a skilled workforce that can help make the products and run the machines that have led to these companies’ growth. According to Iowa Workforce Development data, last month’s unemployment rate in the Perry area ran between 2.3% and 2.6%, well below the state and national rates.
The PEDI career fair will be held Thursday, Feb. 18 from 4-6 p.m. and again Saturday, Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Spring Valley Ballroom of the Hotel Pattee in order to provide information on short-term training and opportunities to land high-paying jobs in the Perry area.
“The local manufacturing companies are an important part of Perry’s economy and have seen good growth over the past several years,” said PEDI President Tom Burkgren. “Our goal at Perry Economic Development is to sustain this growth so that these companies can continue to offer good-paying jobs that support families and the community.”
As part of their ongoing efforts to meet this tight local labor market, the Future Ready Perry initiative was begun through a collaboration between DMACC, the Perry school system and Perry Economic Development Inc.
“Our goal is aligned with the Future Ready Iowa initiative led by Gov. Reynolds that attempts to get more Iowans trained for good paying jobs,” said DMACC Perry Director Eddie Diaz. “Future Ready Perry will be our way of doing that at the local level with state and local support.”
Future Ready Perry took shape at an industry roundtable in December in which short-term and long-term solutions were discussed with some of Perry’s biggest industrial employers.
One short-term solution involves training provided by DMACC’s Workforce Training Academy. This continuing-education training provides key skills for new and rewarding employment opportunities in the manufacturing, health care and transportation sectors, all of whom will be represented at the two-day career fair.
Along with local manufacturing jobs, Perry has seen a growing demand for a high quality workforce is the health industry. The Perry Lutheran Homes offer $1,000 and $2,000 signing bonuses for qualified applicants, and they will be present at the job fair to recruit potential employees and discuss tuition reimbursement plans.
“Now more than ever, our society sees the value that nursing assistants and nurses bring to senior care communities,” said Mollie Clark, director of marketing at Perry Lutheran Homes. “It takes a real special kind of person to care for our elderly loved ones. And it’s also one of the most rewarding careers you could ever have. With the high demand for nursing assistants and nurses, Perry Lutheran Homes is incredibly excited to partner with Perry Economic Development, DMACC and other organizations to connect locals in our communities with excellent career opportunities in healthcare and long-term care.”
Other workforce solutions are also available. DMACC Perry’s workforce training academy (WTA) will offer free education and training to qualified individuals with programs in certified nurse assistance and manufacturing technology starting this spring. Individuals interested in obtaining a commercial driver’s license might also qualify for free training at the DMACC’s Transportation Institute in Ankeny.
“We think that there are many people who are looking for a step up in their take-home pay or want to enter a new field that has not been open to them before,” Diaz said, “and these trainings can help them get started on that path forward.”
Attendees to the career fair will be eligible to win pizzas, gas cards and a free night at the Hotel Pattee. Social distancing, reduced capacity and masks procedures will be enforced. Participating employers include: Tyson Fresh Meats 1+2 program, Progressive Foundry, Percival Scientific, Perry Lutheran Homes and Dallas County Hospital.
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