DMACC Expands Pre-Apprenticeship Programs Across Central Iowa

Work-based learning allows high school students to turn an interest into a career path.

More Central Iowa high school students are enrolling in DMACC's pre-apprenticeship programs than ever before. This year, 2,350 high school students are enrolled in 22 DMACC work-based learning/pre-apprenticeship programs across central Iowa.

“We've been steadily growing our pre-apprenticeship programs for a decade," said Rob Denson, President of DMACC. “All 22 of our career and technical programs are work-based learning and could qualify as pre-apprenticeships. That's what businesses want and that's what we're delivering across Central Iowa."

The programs take place at DMACC career academies, DMACC campuses or within the high school districts themselves, such as the Des Moines Public Schools Central Academy, Waukee, Pella or as in Story County's new SCALE (Story County Active Learning Experience) program that takes place within five businesses.

Some of the career and technical offerings include auto technology, agribusiness, bio-sciences, building trades, health occupations, engineering and welding, for example.

“DMACC's pre-apprenticeship programs create interest among high school students that lead to many high-demand careers. Our DMACC career academies, curriculum and business partnerships provide work-based learning opportunities for students that prepare them for the next step in their education and training," added Denson. “It's just a great pathway to a great Iowa job and career."

DMACC provides the instructors, curriculum and often the training equipment and resources. New programs and course offerings are frequently added. Participating students also earn college credit toward a valuable credential.

“These pre-apprenticeships help students learn about specific careers they are interested in and also provides a real-world learning experience where the business provides a project deadline and quality expectations," said John Kinley, director of the DMACC-Story County Consortium. “In addition, participating businesses are creating a conduit of future employees. It's the essence of work-based learning."

Story County businesses partnering with SCALE include, Kreg Tool, Renewable Energy Group, Mary Greeley Medical Center, Vision Bank, Sigler and Workiva. Students enrolled in SCALE work directly within the businesses.

Kinley said students often tell him that the pre-apprenticeship experience ignites a career passion. One recent example was from two students, Molly Barten from Colo-Nesco High School and Emma Griffin from Nevada High School. Their assignment, from Mary Greeley Medical Center, is to gather data, create informational materials and promote stroke awareness for the Medical Center.

Randy Gabriel, DMACC Career Advantage Program Director, said school districts often drive the fields of study. “We work closely with the school districts and our businesses to offer the programs and curriculum they want within their area," said Gabriel. “That's one of the advantages of this partnership. These are community-based initiatives and workplace solutions."

School districts or businesses that have an interest in a career or technical program are invited to contact Randy Gabriel for more information ( or 515-965-6011).

DMACC Career Academy Pella Apprenticeship Program

Learn more about DMACC Career Academies