January 27, 2020 – Rockford, IL: The Workforce Connection Board (TWC) today released its comprehensive local and regional workforce development strategic plans for 2020 – 2024. The Workforce Connection Board is one of 22 local workforce boards established by the Governor of the State of Illinois pursuant to the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Utilizing Federal and State funds, TWC provides a system for individuals to get employed and also works with employers to find skilled workers and access other services, including education and training for their current workforce in Boone, Stephenson, and Winnebago Counties. TWC is committed to providing a workforce that meets the needs of the business community. The plan was developed through a robust collaboration with business, economic development, education and workforce development stakeholders and will align efforts across the Northern Stateline Economic Development Region which includes Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson and Ogle counties.
TWC leveraged its expertise and passion for workforce initiatives to develop a regional plan that fosters collaboration and ensures that training programs deliver value for employers and workers. The regional plan also meets a requirement of WIOA, which funds workforce development initiatives, and aligns efforts with the State Unified Plan. Governor Pritzker’s outlined goals for the State include uniting workforce development partners around regional strategies; preparing Illinois workers for a career, not just the next job; and connecting employers with the talent they need.
To develop the regional plan, TWC first undertook a thorough economic and workforce analysis which identified the following regional workforce issues:
- Like many around the United States, the region has a declining and aging population.
- Our current unemployment rate sits at 5.1% for November 2019, higher than the national rate of 4.3% and the highest in Illinois.
- There is a high demand for jobs and an opportunity to educate and train underemployed members of the workforce.
- Statistics indicate a high level of working poor, with income disparities between African American households and other groups.
To address these workforce realities, the regional plan identified the following goals and strategies, aligned to the State’s Unified Plan:
- Unite partners by developing a regional strategy centered around high-impact clusters and in-demand occupations. Industries targeted include manufacturing, health care/social assistance, transportation & warehousing, leisure & hospitality, professional & business services and construction.
- Prepare the workforce for careers – not just their next job – by increasing apprenticeship opportunities; addressing training and employment barriers; and setting/supporting equity goals for post-secondary education and training.
- Connect career seekers with employers by shortening time frames from credential to employment and integrating workforce services across program providers.
In addition to a regional plan, TWC developed a four-year local action plan to direct strategies and investments in Boone, Stephenson and Winnebago counties, which makes up its local workforce area. The local plan focuses on scaling education programs like GED, basic skills, Integrated Career and Preparation System (ICAPS) through local community colleges, Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, English as a Second Language and credentialing; marketing segments of the labor force such as mature and under-employed workers; and rapid response activities for dislocated and laid off workers.
“The regional and local workforce development strategic plans will be invaluable for coordinating and aligning efforts across multiple stakeholders including educational partners, economic development partners, employers, and workforce development organizations,” said Dr. Lisa Bly, Executive Director of The Workforce Connection Board. “Our goal is to maximize our regional resources as we strive to elevate the successful and strengthen the weaker workforce development activities to address the region’s education and skill needs, now and into the future.”
The strategic plans will be available for review and public comment until February 26. The public can download a copy of the report and submit comments by e-mailing email@example.com. The updated plans will be presented to The Workforce Connection Board for approval on March 3, after which time it is submitted to the Governor’s office for review. Once approved by the State, the regional and local plans would be effective July 1, 2020. For more information, please contact Amanda M. Sink, Strategic Initiatives Manager at (815) 395-6688 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Workforce Connection
The Workforce Connection (TWC) Board is one of 22 local workforce boards established by the Governor of the State of Illinois pursuant to the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Utilizing Federal and State funds, TWC provides a system for individuals to get employed and also works with employers to find skilled workers and access other services, including education and training for their current workforce in Boone, Stephenson, and Winnebago Counties. TWC is committed to providing a workforce that meets the needs of the business community.