SenatorGillespieSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House approved State Senator Ann Gillespie’s (D-Arlington Heights) plan to create the 21st Century Employment Grant Program to address employment gaps in Illinois’ manufacturing, health care and technology industries today.

“Employers need us 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.”

Senate Bill 1919 would create a statewide career and technical education (CTE) framework for identifying the skills employers are seeking on an ongoing basis and would award grants to CTE programs in those disciplines. The program seeks to establish an ongoing pipeline of highly trained workers in the manufacturing, healthcare and innovative technologies fields.

Gillespie’s proposal allocates funds to community colleges and high schools that train students for a career and teach them in-demand professional skills. Each program receiving a grant must provide students with industry-recognized certifications upon completion.

An advisory board of educators, business groups and labor leaders would determine the needs of communities and establish training programs to fill their employment gaps.

The state-funded program would also be supported by private contributions.

“This will provide incentives for people to stay in Illinois and enrich their communities by being productive members of the workforce,” Gillespie said. “It will also bring more businesses to Illinois when they see we are prioritizing ongoing investments in a trained workforce.”

Senate Bill 1919 awaits the governor’s signature to become law.