Illinois Central College, in partnership with Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and Deputy Majority Leader Jehan Gordon-Booth, announces the launch of a statewide Workforce Equity Initiative grant. Illinois Central College will be the lead college of the $18.7 million initiative, receiving $1.85 million and partnering with 14 additional Illinois community colleges.
The ICC Workforce Equity Initiative is focused on improving workforce inclusivity by providing a credential and a living-wage job for adults residing in disproportionately impacted areas (low income, low employment, high crime). African American participants must represent a minimum of 60 percent of the population served by the grant due to their underrepresentation in high-demand, high-wage careers. The initiative addresses local workforce gaps and employment barriers in an effort to prepare underserved individuals with a decent and equitable employment opportunity. The end goal is for participating students to secure employment with a full-time job paying at least 30 percent above the regional living wage.
“This initiative allows ICC the opportunity to remove barriers for the underserved and disadvantaged. It allows us to meet students where they are, and get them where they want to be,” said ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey. “When adults earn credentials with labor market value, it not only changes the trajectory of their lives, but also the lives of their families; while growing the workforce, expanding businesses and creating a more vibrant regional economy.”
The Workforce Equity Initiative will train participants in the high-demand occupations of CNC Operator, Welder, CDL Truck Driver, Local Area Network (LAN) Technician, CISCO Certified Network Administrator, CompTIA A+ (Computer Basics), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Paramedic.
ICC will use Earn and Learn and Workforce Readiness skills training, enhanced by employer sponsorships, pre-apprenticeships, bridge programs and essential skills training. Local community-based organizations will assist with case management and wrap-around support services. Collaboration with these agencies, employers, faith-based organizations and community stakeholders is essential for success of the initiative.
“ICC is honored to be leading this statewide workforce initiative. Receiving this grant solidifies ICC’s commitment to bridging the workforce gap in our region and providing our students a pathway to careers with living wages,” said ICC Associate Vice President of Workforce Development Dr. Andrew Kerr.
Legislative leadership for this initiative was championed by Deputy Majority Leader Jehan Gordon-Booth and the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. “I was proud to negotiate this innovative program that will be targeted directly at populations too often left behind when it comes to skills gap opportunities, career education and technical training, particularly in African American communities,” said Gordon-Booth. “I’m also proud that this program is being led by Illinois Central College, showcasing the ability of community colleges to help develop and implement innovative solutions that will lead directly to improved livelihoods for people across Illinois.”
The statewide grant will support development and implementation of instructional workforce programs at ICC and 14 additional community colleges, including College of Lake County, Joliet Junior College, Kennedy-King College, Lincoln Land Community College, Malcolm X College, Olive-Harvey College, Parkland College, Prairie State College, Richland Community College, Rock Valley College, South Suburban College, Southwestern Illinois College, Triton College, and Wilbur Wright College.
As the third largest community college system in the country and the leading public workforce development trainer in the state, Illinois community colleges serve over 600,000 residents each year in credit, noncredit, and continuing education courses. Illinois is home to 48 colleges in 39 community college districts, which provide high-quality, accessible and cost-effective educational opportunities to the entire state.
For more information, visit icc.edu/wei or call (309) 690-7600.