They're staring a new program to teach workers new skills. Community colleges, like Lake Land and Parkland, already have programs made for manufacturers. Now, they'll be working together to compile a better curriculum to train workers to be on the cutting edge of technological advancements.
There are more than 600,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs around the U.S. now. So, school leaders say it's a matter of making sure workers' skills fit the job descriptions.
"If you look at modern manufacturing today, they need that highly-trained, well-skilled workforce, more so than they would have needed 30-years ago. That's where they're getting a lot of their productivity increases; through that skilled workforce."
Organizers call this new collaboration the "East Central Illinois Consortium for Advanced Technology Careers Hub." The group has already applied for an $8.8-million grant to help move the program forward.
It emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math fundamentals. Other schools involved with the program include Richland Community College and DACC.
Central Illinois took a hit in manufacturing jobs already this year. In the past five months, Caterpillar announced 760 people were losing their jobs. A construction company in Decatur, All Tri-R, says about 175 workers could lose their jobs because it lost a contract. The statewide unemployment rate from June, across all parts of the workforce, is 9.2%.
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