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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