gillespie 032119SPRINGFIELD – A successful grant program that is putting people to work in central Illinois would be available to community colleges in the suburbs and elsewhere throughout the state under a proposal from State Senator Ann Gillespie.

The proposal would establish the manufacturing training grant program. It is modeled in part after a job skills training initiative at Richland Community College in Decatur, which received a $1.5 million state grant in 2018. The collaboration of state, local and private resources in that community is expected to put as many as 225 people to work.

“This is a phenomenal program, and I think it could be replicated at community colleges throughout Illinois with the state’s help,” said Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights). “With the proper investment and strong partnerships, we can put people to work in manufacturing, health care and technology jobs in communities statewide.”

Under Gillespie’s plan, participating community colleges or high schools would train students for a career but also teach them professional skills that are needed to be successful in the workplace, such as preparing a resume, effective communication and time management.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1919, brings together educators, business groups and labor leaders on an advisory board that will determine the unique set of needs of local communities. The programs will be funded through a combination of state resources and private contributions.

The advisory board will also track the progress of each grant recipient, analyze if the programs are closing the employment or education gaps, and offer suggestions for additional training programs to support the labor needs of prospective businesses looking to locate in Illinois.

Finally, the plan calls for programs to yield at least six certificates that employers indicate are needed in the community so that students can be hired upon graduation.

Gillespie also is sponsoring Senate Bill 2024, which requires the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to study the potential expansion of apprenticeship programs in the state and produce a report on its findings by June 1, 2020.

“These proposals expand on great ideas that are already out there. We’re just looking for opportunities to match people to the skills that are in demand and so they can earn the great wages that accompany those jobs,” Gillespie said.

“I am thrilled to see there is a renewed desire to invest in Illinois’ future. I believe that future relies heavily on producing a well-trained, 21st century workforce that is ready to tackle the needs of employers throughout the state.”

Both proposals passed Senate committees this week without opposition and will now head to the Senate floor for further debate.