Gov. Pritzker announces $44 million investment to expand workforce training

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the DCEO and community leaders announce a $40 million investment to the workforce recovery program and $4.4 million in career training grants for at-risk youth.
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 11:53 AM CDT
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CHICAGO, Ill. (WIFR) - Jobseekers and at-risk youth looking for workforce training are in luck.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, along with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and community leaders announce a $40 million investment to the workforce recovery program, which helps find work for jobseekers and help areas most impacted by COVID-19. The funds will go toward expanding workforce and job training, support services and help cover expenses that may prevent people from being employed.

“I’m proud to announce a new $40 million workforce recovery grant program aimed at getting more jobseekers back to work and helping small businesses hit hardest by the pandemic,” Gov. Pritzker says. “We’re also expanding on the success of our first-ever youth career pathways program aimed at helping get more at-risk youth into rewarding careers with an additional $4.4 million — focusing in communities where it’s most needed. These are the key components of our recovery from the pandemic, and our commitment to build a better Illinois for everyone.”

The workforce recovery grant program will boost access to education, training and supportive services needed for vulnerable residents to successfully re-enter the labor force. The state anticipates 1,500 Illinois unemployed, underemployed, or underrepresented citizens in disproportionately impacted areas will receive needed services.

“DCEO is committed to investing in workforce development programs that help close the equity gap – and our latest training investments are aimed at meeting residents where they are and providing access to training for 21st century career paths,” DCEO Acting Director Sylvia Garcia says. “Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, we are advancing timely investments in our workforce recovery that will help our Illinois communities collectively build back better and strengthen our talent pool which time and again is cited by new and existing employers as a top reason to live, work and do business in Illinois.”

To ensure a holistic approach in creating a more equitable workforce, the administration also released $4.4 million in career training grants for at-risk youth. Gov. Pritzker also reveals a Commission on Workforce Equity to make access to certain services equal for all jobseekers statewide. The investment will help with expansion training programs and distribute funds to 20 partner organizations who serve at least 500 youth throughout the year. The three recipients of the largest funds are Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois ($325,000), Homework Hangout, Inc. ($300,000) OIA Inc. ($300,000) and YWCA Metropolitan Chicago ($299,959).

The Governor also formed the Commission on Workforce Equity and Access to establish an equitable, accessible, and effective state workforce system grounded in an understanding of user and stakeholder experience, including how racial, social, and geographic inequities inform experience and outcomes across Illinois’ federally and state-funded workforce programs.

“We applaud the Governor and legislators for reinvigorating the JTED Program. Historically this initiative was able to serve job seekers with systemic barriers to employment because it was community-driven, and recognized and responded to unique Illinois realities,” Chicago Jobs Council Advocacy Manager Rev. Rachel Birkah-Rommelfanger says. “Relaunching this program will build on that legacy by creating a Barrier Reduction Fund, which will increase job training programs’ ability to provide fast, emergency assistance so issues like overdue rent or lack of childcare won’t stand in the way of participants meeting their career advancement goals.”

More information on workforce training can be found here.

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