News from the Valley Industrial Association membership breakfast

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Dawn and I both enjoyed representing Frank’s Employment at the 2014 general membership breakfast for the Valley Industrial Association.  A delicious buffet breakfast provided by the Q Center, networking opportunities with other professionals in business and industry, as well as plenty of information about initiatives and opportunities in the central Fox Valley area.  Here are just a few highlights.

Cindy Tomei, Executive Director of VIA, noted that the association has received $765,000 in 2014 from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.  This grant funds the Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP), helping qualified employers to enhance their employees’ skills to stay competitive.  Funding is still available through VIA, with the next deadline set as September 19th.  Contact VIA this week for more information about the application process.

Ms. Tomei also mentioned that Governor Quinn has designated October as manufacturing month in Illinois, an opportunity for local manufacturers to network with students and future employees attending local high schools and community colleges. VIA will have onsite student visits arranged for October 30th and 31st.

Karen Hunter Anderson, Executive Director of the Illinois Community College Board, provided much detail about the growing partnerships of community colleges and Illinois manufacturers.

  • From 1993 to 2013, community college enrollment has remained fairly steady, varying by plus or minus 4%.
  • Yet in Illinois, the completion rate for certifications and degrees has steadily increased since 1998-1999, especially in career and technical education programs.  In 2000, community colleges granted 7,442 short-term certifications.  By 2013, that number had nearly quadrupled to 28,241 short-term certificates!
  • The recent passage of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) essentially renewed the federal funding for the Workforce Investment Act.
  • Illinois community colleges increasingly partner with business, industry, and manufacturing to ensure that educational training and job opportunity are well-aligned.  The top eight partnerships in Illinois are: agriculture and natural resources; energy and sustainability; logistics and transportation; information technology; finance; research and development; health and science; and manufacturing.
  • Dr. Anderson emphasized that community colleges are uniquely positioned to be speedily responsive to training needs for local manufacturers, citing several examples from Joliet Junior College, Waubonsee Community College, and others in the area.
  • The top 5 manufacturing-related programs in Illinois community colleges are: welding; electrical and electronic engineering; manufacturing engineering; industrial electronics and computer engineering; and industrial mechanics and maintenance.

Thanks to the Valley Industrial Association for a great event today with terrific and timely resources.

VIA GM breakfast - event brochure

by Elyse Williamson
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