Illinois Central College President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey wants to change the narrative on post-high school education in Central Illinois.
“Too often in this region, I hear people talking about, not everyone needs to go to college. And what they mean is, not everyone needs a 4-year degree," she said. "Because in order to drive this regional economy, when I talk about people need credentials past high school, I’m not just talking about a 4-year degree.”
While people don’t necessarily need four-year degrees for a family-sustaining wage, Quirk-Bailey said they do need some type of credential to obtain skilled jobs that pay family-sustaining wages. In Central Illinois, manufacturing, healthcare, and other industries are experiencing skills gaps.
“Right now in our region, we have over 150,000 adults without a credential past high school. [T]hat is the equivalent of the entire population of Peoria and Pekin combined. We have our work cut out for us," she said.
ICC is working with businesses and community organizations to train workers to fill these jobs. The goal is to raise the ratio of credentialed workers in Central Illinois from 40 to 60 percent over the next several years.
Quirk-Bailey spoke Wednesday at Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center.