welder1SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate approved State Senator Ann Gillespie’s plan to establish a statewide workforce training grant that’s modeled after a successful program at a community college in central Illinois.

Senate Bill 1919 creates the 21st Century Employment Grant Program, which will bring together state and local resources to support career training programs at community colleges and high schools. The measure received bipartisan support and was approved by the Senate with no opposition.

“Illinois desperately needs to establish a pipeline of skilled workers for manufacturing, health care and technology careers. This measure will help us do that,” Gillespie said. “Career and technical education is a priority of mine, and I am excited to advance this important legislation.”

Under the 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 requires community colleges or high schools to create an advisory board or partnership with local employers and economic developers. Furthermore, it requires state officials to track the progress of each grant recipient, analyze whether the programs are closing the employment or education gap for the labor needs of the region, and offer suggestions for additional training programs to support the labor needs of prospective businesses looking to locate in Illinois.

The measure 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.