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Illinois investing $44 million in workforce training for jobseekers and at-risk youth

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(WSIL) -- Governor JB Pritzker announced investments to expand workforce training and support Illinois’ continued economic recovery from the pandemic.

The new initiatives include a $40 million workforce recovery grant program aimed to get more jobseekers back to work, while helping sectors impacted most by COVID-19. The funding will expand workforce training, job training and support services as well as covering basic expenses that are barriers to those seeking employment.

The administration also released $4.4 million in career training grants for at-risk youth. In addition, the Governor announced a new cross-functional Commission on Workforce Equity and Access to boost equitable access to workforce services across the state.

“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,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “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.”

Workforce Recovery Grants

The workforce recovery grant program will utilize the state’s Job Training and Economic Development Program (JTED) model to boost access to education, training, and supportive services needed for vulnerable residents to successfully re-enter the labor force.

Illinois will invest in training programs that support regional and local economic development for businesses and individuals most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The program will expand access to training, job placement, support services and reduce barriers that prevent individuals from successfully re-entering the labor force.

Additionally, flexible funding is available for individuals with emergency costs for basic needs that prevent them from participating in training programs or employment.  It is anticipated that 1,500 Illinois unemployed, underemployed, or underrepresented citizens in disproportionately impacted areas will receive needed services.

A $20 million NOFO released today marks the first phase of the workforce recovery program, with a second round expected by next spring.  JTED funding will focus on hard hit sectors which have seen a labor shortage since the onset of the pandemic – such as manufacturing, healthcare, arts and entertainment, waste management, and retail. 

Youth Career Pathways

Youth workforce investments will support an expansion of training programs across the state with funds deployed to 20 partner organizations serving an estimated 500 youth over a one-year period.

Youth career pathway grant recipients include:

  • Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois, $325,000
  • Homework Hangout, Inc, $300,000
  • OIA, Inc, $300,000
  • YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, $299,959
  • Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, $285,000
  • Phalanx Family Services, $260,000
  • Greater West Town Community Development Project, $250,000
  • Workforce Investment Solutions $250,000
  • Teens Against Killing Everywhere, $250,000
  • Youth Job Center, $250,000
  • Reset to Success Foundation, $205,000
  • Peoria Public Schools, $202,648
  • CAPS, Inc., $200,000
  • Quad County Urban League Aurora, $200,000
  • UCAN, $200,000
  • Illinois Foundation of SkillsUSA – VICA, $180,000
  • BUILD, Inc., $170,000
  • New Moms, $150,000
  • Hope Center Foundation, $105,000
  • Southeastern Illinois College, $98,718

Governor’s Commission on Workforce Equity & Access

The Commission is charged with creating a vision for 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.  

Among its top priorities, the Commission will find ways to strengthen and diversify existing workforce training programs to address shortages, expand access to talent and to promote equity and inclusion across all industries.

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