Maytag workers facing unemployment when the appliance maker closes in Newton may have an educational offer to help them prepare for new jobs. Scott Stanton is director of the Newton Center for Buena Vista University, and says its satellite centers are strongly job-training oriented.
Most of the students are non-traditional, older people coming back to get a degree they started but didn’t finish years ago, or coming in for workforce education to get an advanced position because a two year associate degree is no longer enough and they need a bachelor’s degree.
Stanton says the Newton campus isn’t the only one, or the first, to extend the reach of B-V-U. He says for 30 years Buena Vista University has offered external programs around the state, and there are fifteen centers across the state, all of them partnered with a local community college.
The Newton center, BVU’s newest one, has been there about three and a half years. “Probably our biggest majors are business management, psychology, human services and education.” Buena Vista University is offering free retraining for laid-off Maytag workers when buyer Whirlpool goes through with its promise to close the flagship factory in Newton, by fall 2007.
Many of the workers will be eligible for trade readjustment retraining money, and some grant money from BVU should pretty much cover the cost of tuition and books for them, Stanton says. He says it’ll help out people who are “in a tough bind here.” Funding for the program is in legislation aimed at easing the pain of job loss.
Any Whirlpool Maytag employee who’s eligible for funds under the Trade Adjustment Act (which formerly was known as NAFTA) is also eligible for this special BVU grant just for the displaced Maytag workers. While the Buena Vista College center doesn’t do job counseling, Stanton says the advisors can help students figure out ways their education might help get the next job they’re looking for.
The funding available will mean a thousand dollars a year, for two years, for Maytag workers in Newton who want to take advantage of the program.