Ernst Tours Iowa Lakes Community College, Discusses Support for Students, Wind Workforce Training

The Iowa senator backs bipartisan efforts to promote jobs in the state’s sustainable energy industry and support students entering training programs

ESTHERVILLE, Iowa – Today on her 99 County Tour, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) visited Iowa Lakes Community College and toured the campus, including the community college’s Sustainable Energy Resources Technology (SERT) building that houses a program designed to provide wind energy industry training and certification for students.

Ernst has long been a champion of Iowa’s sustainable energy industry and helped lead the effort on the bipartisan Wind Workforce Modernization and Training Act—a key part of which was signed into law late last year—to promote wind workforce training opportunities for students, technical schools, and community colleges, like Iowa Lakes. She also recently helped put forward the bipartisan JOBS Act—or the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students Act—which will allow students to receive Pell Grants for short-term job training programs.

“Iowa is one of the nation’s leaders in developing and utilizing sustainable energy resources, like wind energy, to create good-paying jobs for folks in our state. The backbone of this industry is the workforce that powers it, and that starts with programs like the one I had a chance to visit and hear more about today at Iowa Lakes Community College,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “It’s critical we make important investments to support students and promote the tools and training for the next generation of technicians to continue the success we’ve seen in the wind energy industry in Iowa over the last few years—and I’m proud to support bipartisan efforts to do just that.”

“Iowa Lakes Community College is honored to have been chosen to host Senator Ernst today. She is a steadfast supporter of community colleges, and we appreciate her time and interest in learning about the unique opportunities available to our students. At Iowa Lakes, we provide students with the education and transferable skills needed to meet workforce demands, whether through short-term, skill-up certification training or degree-seeking programming like our Water Quality Technician or Wind Energy & Turbine Technology programs,” said Valerie Newhouse, President, Iowa Lakes Community College.

Ernst has partnered with Senator Angus King (I-Maine) on the Wind Workforce Modernization and Training Act which would help incentivize and promote the development of wind power and wind jobs in Iowa and across the nation. Ernst successfully pushed to have the training grant component of the bill signed into law at the end of 2020 as part of the government funding bill. In addition to promoting wind workforce training for students, the full bill would facilitate the modernization of the current U.S. wind technician workforce and create career pathways for veterans to more easily enter the wind workforce through the creation of a veterans-focused jobs program, similar to the Solar Ready Vets program.

The JOBS Act is bipartisan legislation that would expand federal Pell Grant eligibility to include high-quality, short-term job training programs. Under current law, to receive federal Pell Grants students must participate in over 600 hours of instruction for at least 15 weeks. Many short-term training programs for high-demand, middle-skill jobs do not meet these requirements. This bill would change this requirement to be at least 150 hours over 8 weeks, allowing students to receive short-term certification for high-demand occupations in their area.

Today’s visit was the 39th stop on Ernst’s 99 County Tour for 2021.