ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- High unemployment rates continue; the State of Illinois sits at nearly nine percent and it's even worse in the Rockford area at more than eleven-and-a-half percent. That's why there's a greater need to produce skilled workers, but Rock Valley College is doing just that with a new, rare program.
The manufacturing program at Rock Valley College is being recognized as one of the best in the country. RVC has been designated as a Right Skills Now college, one of just ten colleges in the country with that title and the only one in Illinois.
"A student can come take the stackable credentials in one semester, decide if they want to go to an internship and a job in a company, or decide if they might want to go back to school," said Mike Mastroianni, interim president of Rock Valley College.
If students decide to go back to school, their credentials will translate into college credit. But they can also take the career route. Students will be able to work on CNC machines at RVC while partnering with local manufacturing companies. Eclipse is one of those companies that offers internships.
"And the hope would be that we would do an internship and possibly employ a part-time student while they continue their education," said Laura Parker, director of Global Process Design and Information Technology at Eclipse.
RVC has been developing this new program over the last year, that about 120 students have completed. The college expects that number to double or even triple over the next few years, as they add the credential transfer piece in the fall.
If students decide to transfer their manufacturing credentials into college credit, they'll have to take the entrance exam and pass two classes. Then those credentials will translate into three hours of college credit.