SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, launched the Workforce Equity Initiative, a statewide project that she negotiated to improve workforce inclusivity and wages for populations underrepresented in skills gap jobs as well as career and technical education programs.
“Despite historically low unemployment rates, too many people in communities across Illinois are being left behind when it comes to the skills needed to thrive in the modern workforce,” Gordon-Booth. “Employment isn’t about simply having a job, it’s about having a career that provides a living wage, the opportunity for a middle-class life and dignity for one’s labor.”
The Workforce Equity Initiative is a partnership of the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), community colleges across the state, Gordon-Booth and the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and is led by Illinois Central College in order to increase workforce skills and boost the economies of African American populations who are underrepresented in skills gap fields like like career and technical education programs. Partnering with regional employers, the program will train participants in a variety of skillsets for high-demand occupations, including computer network administrators, emergency medical technicians, machinists, nurses and welders. The nearly $20 million initiative will leverage existing funds and rely on established community based organizations to help identify program participants and case management. Furthermore, employers that hire successfully credentialed program participants will receive a tax credit.
“I’m proud that this transformative initiative will be targeted directly at populations that are too often left behind when it comes to career education and technical training, particularly in African American communities,” Gordon-Booth said. “I’m also proud that this program is being led by Illinois Central College, showcasing the ability of community colleges to help develop and implement innovative solutions that will lead directly to improved livelihoods for people across Illinois.”