Over the past four years, the Juniors and Seniors in Osceola’s Clarke Community School District have taken a special day out of their study routine to learn more about the local employment landscape in Osceola and Clarke County. On Friday, with the partnership of Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC), Southwest Iowa Community College (SWCC), and Iowa Works, over 45 students spent the day learning how a future in Clarke County may look during the Career and Tech Ed (CTE) Day.

Starting the day in the auditorium, the students listened to and participated in job discussions lead by Clarke staff. Representatives from local businesses also spoke on the unique aspects of employment and employment opportunities within their companies. From college and education requirements to entry-level pay scale, the students were given the ins-and-outs of navigating their future employment.

It’s always interesting to see where today’s students are looking for future careers,” said Bill Trickey, CCDC Executive Director. “The traditional ‘high school, then college, then life-long career’ path has changed dramatically. With apprenticeships and other options, a four-year degree isn’t always the most logical next step.”


Joey Rutledge, Kyle Ransom, and Peyton Gilbert, the team from Gilbert Plumbing and Heating spoke about one option available to soon-to-be-graduates: work apprenticeships. With the apprenticeships available in HVAC and other trades, candidates are able to work through necessary skill sets toward certifications that offer higher pay in a shorter time than some students spend in college.  These certifications also offer consistent employment opportunities from Osceola businesses as well as others throughout the nation.

Many job opportunities throughout Osceola are centered around skilled trades. A number of them don’t necessarily require a college degree, but do require special certification or classes that can be taken through the business or through programs offered at SWCC.

While discussing his experiences with the students, Rutledge said,

It doesn’t cost you anything to try, and it’s something you can take with you – from Journeyman to Master Craftsman. It’s an accomplishment that will serve me for the rest of my life.”

When the morning’s session was over, the students divided themselves into two groups and boarded tour busses bound for local businesses. Participating businesses were:

Through a morning session and an afternoon session at a second facility, students toured local businesses, watched employees in action, and listened to representatives from each company discuss the paths that brought them to employment there. From curriculum requirements to general life skills, the employees were specific in the prerequisites for gaining employment at each location.

Problem solving and dedication seemed to be a theme today,” said one student while in transition between tours. “Skills for most trades can be taught, but being able to solve problems on the fly and have a commitment to the job are things we can work on right now.”

Before embarking on a group tour of Clarke County Hospital, which included areas such as laboratory, pharmacy, radiology, informatics, nursing, and the emergency department, Kate Emanuel, Human Resources Director for the hospital stated,

We are so proud of the individuals that work here!  Clarke County Hospital has over 80 different job classifications, and we need each of those different roles in our hospital to provide the best patient care. We understand how each job contributes to the success of the hospital.  By offering tuition assistance for career development as part of our comprehensive benefits package, we make an investment in our employees. We see it as another way we provide development opportunities for our employees which benefits everyone. It’s a win-win scenario.”

At the end of the day, the 46 students spent 2-3 hours at each of their selected locations, learning the future employment possibilities available at each. From medical and healthcare to manufacturing, the paths available to the students were laid out and options discussed.

Through the efforts of Clarke County Development Corporation, SWCC, and Iowa Works, the Career and Tech Ed (CTE) Day provides a valuable opportunity for Clarke students to get a real-life idea of the potential careers available to them in Osceola and Clarke County.

For more information, contact Bill Trickey, Executive Director of CCDC 115 E Washington St, Osceola, IA 50213, Phone: (641) 342-2944, email: [email protected]