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Illinois announces expansion of state apprenticeship program

CHICAGO (WEEK) --Illinois' apprenticeship program is about to get an expansion -- to support more than 17,000 apprentices this year.

Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced a $4.7 million investment that will expand the Illinois Apprenticeship Program to serve an additional 568 residents in training programs over the next two years. 

25 organizations around the state will receive grants to expand training programs and employer partnerships, with an emphasis on growth in underserved communities.

According to a release, additional grant funding to sustain and expand the program will see a record level of investment of $20 million and will serve a record 17,000 participants in 2020.

“Amidst one of the most difficult job markets in a generation, Illinois is expanding our state Apprenticeship Program to bolster training opportunities and employer partnerships through today’s $4.7 million investment. These investments are a down payment on the future of Illinois and will help many more of our residents who haven’t previously had access to on the job training the ability to do so,” said Governor Pritzker. “While COVID-19 has placed an enormous economic burden on many of our communities, we want job seekers to know they aren’t alone in navigating this crisis. That is why our apprenticeship programs involve Illinois employers, community colleges, local workforce partners, and so many others working together to expand job training programs and to do it in a way that is equitable.”

DCEO is awarding grants to 25 partner organizations through a new $4.7 million investment, made possible by a $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor awarded to DCEO as well as $1.9 million in discretionary workforce funds invested by the state. These investments will pave the way for training in new industries, while also helping more residents in underserved communities to unlock jobs in high-demand and highly paid career fields. Investments announced today to increase capacity, along with a $5 million investment in the Apprenticeship Tax Credit and $10 million for the historic Illinois works initiative bring the total investment to a record $20 million for 2020.

New apprenticeship partners were selected through a competitive review process geared toward helping the State expand programming to underrepresented communities. Through the expansion, apprenticeship intermediaries will begin to operate for the first time in DeKalb, Sterling, Rock Island, Moline, Rockford, and Springfield. These investments will also provide existing programs serving underserved communities with additional capacity. DCEO partners currently offer programming in East St. Louis, Southern Cook County and Southern Illinois.

The grants will fund 17 organizations that serve as apprenticeship intermediaries and develop and deliver industry aligned curriculum to train participants; intermediaries include community colleges, local governments, and community-based organizations. The investment will also fund a total of 8 navigator organizations that work with company-based apprenticeship programs to match them with participants in high-needs areas.  A full list of new apprenticeship partner organizations is available on DCEO’s website.

Program participants will have access to apprenticeship training opportunities spanning a wide range of industry professions, with program availability dependent upon region. New programs focused on in-demand industry areas such as IT and medical assistance offer apprentices access to new certifications and high paying jobs.

Residents or employers interested in joining the Illinois Apprenticeship Program may visit www.ApprenticeshipIllinois.com to learn more about apprenticeship eligibility and pathways available across a variety of industries in Illinois.

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