Woodstock…On Friday, State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) sponsored a roundtable meeting at the Woodstock Public Library in conjunction with the Illinois Career and Technical (Education) Administrators Association (ICTA) and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) to discuss developing a local program that provides a pipeline for high school students to local trades in McHenry County.
“The biggest concern that manufacturers share with me when I visit them is their need for talented employees who possess the necessary skills to work in today’s high-tech manufacturing environment. There are not enough applicants for their openings. This meeting was meant to discuss ways to close the skills gap and provide employers with well-qualified employees,” said Rep. Reick. “Manufacturing looks different today than it did twenty years ago. We need innovative policies to create a talent pipeline to connect high school students, our future workforce, with employers who can introduce them to high paying careers in industry.”
One long-term goal of Friday’s roundtable is to develop a comprehensive program in McHenry County to bring together local employers and schools to create an initiative that connects students with future career opportunities.
The need for a pipeline into manufacturing and the trades is not only a McHenry County issue, but part of a nationwide skills issue as well. Over two-thirds of students are entering college in pursuit of a four year degree, but only one-third of job openings actually require a degree. In the highly technical and evolving manufacturing sector, employers are looking for customized secondary education in lieu of bachelor’s degrees. Career and Technical Education should be treated on par with college education. Students who are entering the trades are projected to out-earn their bachelor degree seeking counterparts. In addition, they will not be saddled with post-secondary education debt.
During the roundtable, professionals from across the State discussed similar programs that could be a model for McHenry County. In attendance were ICTA members who are Education for Employment Regional (EFE) Directors and Career Center Directors from throughout the State. The EFEs administer both the Federal and State Career and Technical Education (CTE) funds and guide CTE programs in their regions. Below is the full list of attendees from across Illinois:
- State Senator Sue Rezin (R – Morris)
- Brian Gordon, Trees EFE
- Lance Copes, Grundy Area Vocational Center
- Steve Thompson, Woodstock SD 200
- Chris Kendall, Peoria County Education for Employment
- Leigh Coglianese, Technology and Manufacturing Association
- Tony Velotta, Scot Forge
- Dan Dertrand, McHenry County Coop. for Employment Education
- Pam Weber, ICTA
- Jim Nelson, IL Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)
“We have a lot going against us in Illinois, but we have a lot more going for us. One of our major strengths is a skilled workforce that we should expand to encourage companies to locate and stay in Illinois,” emphasized Rep. Reick during the roundtable.
To follow the progress of this initiative please follow Representative Reick’s legislative website at RepStevenReick.com.