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Job Training, Support for Illinois Workforce Top Pritzker’s Agenda


Thursday, March 16, 2023  |  Article  |  Associated Press

From Labor Tribune: Economic improvements were at the core of Gov. JB Pritzker’s State of the State address in February, with more attention paid to job training and support of the Illinois work force. And local Labor-friendly representatives cheered his proposals.


Pritzker gave his address and delivered his proposed budget, which includes $25 million for Illinois Works to advance diversity in trades hiring; $10 million for high school vocational training; $1 million for data center operator training; and $20 million in grants to recruit, train and upskill workers for job openings.


“And we’re going to need every one of those skilled workers and many more, because as of today, we have more than 81,000 more job openings in Illinois than we have skilled workers to fill them,” Pritzker said. “And our economy and industries are continuing to grow.”


Pritzker pointed out that capital investment in Illinois through EDGE agreements has tripled since before the pandemic up to $1 billion in 2022, with a 60-percent increase in jobs.


Other proposals of interest to Labor included:


Smart Start Illinois, which would allow access to preschool for every three- and four-year-old in the state through the Early Childhood Block Grant program.

Early Childhood ACE Scholarship program to train thousands more early childhood educators.

Workforce Compensation Contracts for more stable funding for child care workers, including subsidizing child care for unemployed workers hunting for a job. “It’s nearly impossible to interview with an employer if you’re simultaneously the 24/7 primary caregiver for your family,” Pritzker said. The program will also help providers expand into “child care deserts” where little or no child care is available near home or work.

More funding for higher education grants that supplement federal Pell grants so that every student at or below the median income in Illinois can go to community college tuition-free, including people in healthcare, information technology, construction management, manufacturing and other traditional union trades.