ICC Working To Plug Workforce Gaps in the Skilled Trades

Jul 12, 2019

A lack of math skills can often scare people away from pursuing careers in the trades. Illinois Central College has a program for that.

"We mix the hands on with the essential skills with the math, and when people complete that program then, they're fully qualified to enter our apprenticeships, the trade apprenticeships," said ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey. 

Students go through the Apprentice-Ready Program full-time and receive a stipend.

The program was recognized by Governor J-B Pritzker at a press conference yesterday in Edwards. Quirk-Bailey says the program has been "wonderfully successful" so far. 

The program is among ICC's effort to help plug workforce gaps in the region. 

Employers in the Peoria area say they have lots of jobs available, but no one qualified to fill them. 

Jobs in welding, machining, automotive, and other skilled industries may not require a college degree, but workers often do need special training or a certification to do the job. 

"In the greater Peoria area, only 40 percent of adults have a credential past high school. And you can no longer earn a family sustaining wage if you don't have a credential past high school," said Quirk-Bailey. "Now that can be from the military, that can be an apprenticeship. So that doesn't have to be a four-year degree or even a two-year degree, but it's hard to feed your family if you don't have something." 

ICC is partnering with area high schools, the CEO Council, the Tri-County Urban League and other organizations to help people of all ages and backgrounds get into trades.

The Ready to Work Expo is being held at ICC's East Peoria campus from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday to help introduce people to these fields.