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Downstate manufacturing training academies to be created by state

Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020

* News-Gazette

During a visit Tuesday in Champaign, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced plans to create two community college–based manufacturing training academies.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will provide a total of $15 million for two capital grants through a competitive application process.

The manufacturing training academies will be constructed in downstate Illinois, where the DCEO said there’s a shortage of skilled laborers.

Pritzker made the announcement at Champaign-based Eden Park Illumination, which was founded by two University of Illinois professors and makes ultraviolet lighting for various industries.

* Capitol News Illinois

[DCEO Director Erin Guthrie] noted that Eden Park has grown rapidly in recent months, creating a large number of new jobs in the Champaign area.

“However, they need help with the hiring to fill the demand they have both for their customers and as they make product advancements and innovate,” she said. “The same is true for many of other Illinois companies that we’ve heard from. The need for skilled manufacturers is a big one and it weighs heavily on them as they plan for the future.”

Despite the decline of manufacturing nationally, Guthrie said it is still the largest contributor to the state’s economy, employing more than 500,000 workers and accounting for $60 billion in exports annually.

But David Boulay, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center, said rapidly changing technology in the industry is making it challenging for manufacturers to find the skilled labor they need.

“Worker skills really are expiring like never before,” he said. “Automation, artificial intelligence, collaborative robots are creating massive change in the workplace. And even during this pandemic, we are seeing the signs of that massive change accelerated.”

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- Posted by Rich Miller        

9 Comments
  1. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 9:09 am:

    I sort of applaud JB for this move. For years I have bemoaned this failure of higher Ed.

    But we can’t stop at this. Wherein 2 years is about right in most cases for technical training, we need to augment the experience with some basic economic,financial and communication coursework. I go back to my want of a hybrid 3 year degree.

    When SIUC saw the need for more nursing. What happened. When SIUE saw the need for more pharmacists. What happened. UIS…. what happened. The governor did the right thing. Higher ed dropped the ball….again


  2. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 9:18 am:

    I sort of applaud J.B. on this. Higher ed should have seized upon this years ago.

    Don’t stop here. Create that hybrid 3year degree. Augment the technical training with fundamentals in economics,finance and communication.


  3. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 10:53 am:

    Why is there a shortage of skilled labor downstate? Do skilled laborers move because they don’t want to live there? Would they stay if there were the jobs?


  4. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 11:02 am:

    This must be fake news because I’ve been told repeatedly that JB only wants to destroy downstate economies and kill manufacturing and make Illinois into Venezuela. Surely all those republican politicians and AM talk radio people haven’t been lying this whole time


  5. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 11:06 am:

    The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association initiated the idea of manufacturing academies two years ago and worked with the Administration to make it a reality.


  6. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 1:23 pm:

    This is great news.


  7. - sulla - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 1:46 pm:

    “Why is there a shortage of skilled labor downstate? Do skilled laborers move because they don’t want to live there? Would they stay if there were the jobs?”

    In our region, we can’t get kids to sign up for vocational courses in High School - despite the fact that area manufacturers are in our high schools begging students to learn how to weld/program CNC. Manufacturers openly talk about a “lost generation” of workers. This is one of the main factors accelerating automation.

    I think a lot of it boils down to parents. Either parents are telling their kids (incorrectly) that 4-year college degrees are the only way to go, OR parents are completely uninvolved with their child’s choices for future careers.


  8. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 2:26 pm:

    ===I think a lot of it boils down to parents. Either parents are telling their kids (incorrectly) that 4-year college degrees are the only way to go, OR parents are completely uninvolved with their child’s choices for future careers.===

    Or this isn’t being marketed well. If you can sell teens flavored vapes and designer shoes this should be a walk in the park. No student loans, a cool light show every time you weld something, seeing how things come together. If they can’t sell this they are dropping the ball.


  9. - Leigh John-Ella - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 3:12 pm:

    Richland Community College in Decatur launched a program a few years ago that basically teaches kids how to be quality workers AND gives them basic skills. Before you roll your eyes, these are kids coming from families with little or no working background. Things many of us take for granted, they’ve never known or been taught. So rather than complain, Richland tried to make things better.
    Manufacturers line up to hire the graduates.


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