Regional Workforce Alliance launches program aimed at filling gap in manufacturing jobs

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Over the next three years, 120 Illinois Central College (ICC) students will have the opportunity to earn credentials in manufacturing.

A local foundation announced its sponsorship of the Workforce Equity Initiative, spearheaded by ICC and the Regional Workforce Alliance.

Leaders at the Regional Workforce Alliance said there is a desperate need for manufacturing workers, creating a job gap in the industry. Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey, President of ICC, said employers in the field are 10% understaffed.

“Right now, we have manufacturers who are actually setting up tables in our buildings,” Dr. Quirk-Bailey said. “[They are] talking to everyone as they enter and leave the restrooms. They have such a need for workers.”

She said the initiative will empower underprivileged communities. In a press conference Wednesday, June 9, she said at least 60% of students served will be African-American.

Joshua Gunn, Peoria Area Chamber President and CEO, said without the proper credentials, marginalized communities remain underserved.

“This lack of credentialing suppresses our economic growth and leaves our un-credentialed residents struggling with many of the issues that we often talk about: poverty and the additional challenges of finding work,” Gunn said.

The Gilmore Foundation, who sponsored the ICC Manufacturing Workforce Equity Initiative, donated almost half a million dollars toward the cause. The Regional Workforce Alliance is asking local manufacturers to match one third of the grant.

Quirk-Bailey said it costs $15,000 to sponsor one student.

Any interested individuals can apply for the grant at here or call (309) 690-7600.

Interested manufacturers looking to help sponsor a student can contact the ICC Educational Foundation at foundation@icc.edu.

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