Last week, the Illinois Central College, Eureka College, and Bradley University held a summit of stakeholders to solicit feedback, inputs, and employer commitment to developing a joint grant application for the Good Jobs Challenge.
This grant hopes to address a challenge in our current workforce, specifically in the IT jobs market.
Our region continues to struggle to fill information technology (IT) workforce needs, which have been exacerbated by COVID. Currently, less than 40% of adults have a post-secondary credential in the Peoria region, despite the fact that 60% of regional jobs require credentials beyond high school. One critical area of need is IT—our community cannot stabilize or grow without a highly skilled IT workforce. The US Economic Development Administration has released its “Good Jobs Challenge Grant” to provide communities an opportunity to apply for federal funds to address workforce shortages. The Good Job Challenge utilizes federal funding provided to EDA from the American Rescue Plan Act and can provide up to $25 million in funding over 5 years to communities seeking to address workforce challenges. Funds can be used for program design, workforce training and wraparound services for vulnerable populations.
The grant proposal by Illinois Central College, Bradley University, and Eureka College aims to accelerate the development of the IT workforce and build a sustainable educational infrastructure.
Central Illinois business and industry cannot stabilize or grow without a highly skilled IT workforce. High-demand IT credentials will not only benefit companies and improve regional economic vitality, but it would also enable individuals to change the trajectory of their lives. Earning a credential with labor market value has been the only effective method for freeing families from generational poverty. The Hired! IT Workforce Accelerator will systemically build a quick response educational infrastructure and provide all these outcomes.
The Accelerator will have three pathways; Uncredentialed IT Pathway, Credentialed Career Changer Pathway, and Incumbent IT Workforce Upskilling Pathway.
The Uncredentialed IT Pathway will dual credit, recent high school grads, with wrap-around equity support for people of poverty and color. Incumbent entry-level workers would be retrained to higher-level credentials and backfilled by entry-level program completers. Programming provided by ICC. Possible programming: A+, Net+, Google certifications, Programming languages, software security tech, industry-specific IT technologies.
The Credentialed Career Changer Pathway will serve current 4 year + degree holders who wish to transfer to an IT field. Programming provided by Bradley University and Eureka College, Possible programming: Software design, programming languages, data analytics, cyber security, and industry-specific IT technologies.
Incumbent IT Workforce Upskilling Pathway will serve incumbent entry-level IT employees with wrap-around equity support for people of poverty and color. Incumbent entry-level workers would be retrained to higher-level credentials and backfilled by entry-level program completers. Programming provided by ICC. Possible programming: A+, Net+, Google certifications, Programming languages, software security tech, industry-specific IT technologies.
The summit was to gauge the interest of employers in the region and potential willingness to support the grant proposal with pledges of job orders. The awarding of the grant is dependent on companies in the region committing to job orders and determining their workforce needs for the next five years.
There was a lot of great feedback from the stakeholders present as they shared their support and made relevant recommendations for the proposal and the training programs.