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Associate Director of Policy at CANDO
Frangie Frenkel 312-372-2636 x. 227

A Vision for Workforce Development in Illinois

  • Any Workforce Development and Adult Education system must be an active collaboration between the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
  • All Workforce Development and Adult Education programs must be accountable for their performance and compensated according to their results.
  • Community-based Organizations (CBOs) are important resources and should be incorporated into all levels of service delivery.
  • CBOs should be eligible recipients for any state or federal workforce or adult education funding.
  • Workforce Development and Adult Education systems should target a significant portion of their programs and scarce resources to low-income adults.
  • Special, hard-to-serve populations, like the homeless, non-English speakers, women in non-traditional occupations, and the long-term unemployed should be served through contract service providers.
  • Flexible funding needs to be provided to be available for long-term pre-attachment and more intensive services to bridge how-to-serve populations from unemployment to self-sufficiency.

For more on CANDO's workforce advocacy, see our State Agenda for Community Economic Development website.

Industrial Development in Chicago
Beyond Bricks and Mortar

By Rob May

Community based organizations (CBOs) have been leading the local effort for industrial retention and expansion in Chicago for many years. During Mayor Harold Washington's administration the Department of Economic Development created the Local Industrial Retention Initiative, LIRI for short. Under this program, CBOs entered into formal agreements to be delegate agencies of the City, and were charged with monitoring their neighborhood's industrial environment and to act as a liaisons between City Hall and local businesses. As the groups built their professional capacity they expanded their scope of work, particularly in the area of Workforce Development.

Linking community residents to jobs within their neighborhoods is an area where CBOs shine. LIRI representatives, who interact with business leaders on a daily basis, are in tune to employment requirements of their territories. Using this knowledge they have been able to work with other service providers to develop creative and effective programs as illustrated by these examples.

Within the boundaries of the Kinzie Industrial Corridor on the near west side lie a concentration of firms that produce a range of wood products. The Industrial Council of Northwest Chicago, ICNC, was able to work with local employers and the Greater West Town Development Corporation, a job service provider, to create a woodworker's training program tailored to the industry's needs. Employers are confident in their new hires (the program maintains a near prefect placement rate) because they helped design the curriculum. The intensive analysis of the area, as provided for by the Model Corridor Initiative, will allow ICNC to develop stronger links to employment opportunities.

Situated between Chicago's "Gold Coast" and one of the Nation's most notorious public housing projects, the New City YMCA/ Local Economic & Employment Development (LEED) Council has created an innovative program known as "Hire the Community." An off shoot of their School-to-Work involvement, Hire the Community provides pre employment skill training and job shadowing to residents of Cabrini Green and the surrounding area. The program is supported by local business, each of which commits to hire two trainees during the year. For many of the participants it is their first employment opportunity. Through the Model Corridor process and a broad service menu, LEED Council plans to expand the positive impact they have on the lives of area residents.

On the far southeast side, the Southeast Chicago Development Commission, SCDCom, has organized training for those who are currently employed but with out the transferable skills needed to advance into living wage jobs. Once known as a "company town" for big steel and lifetime employment the area was devastated by the economic down turn of the mid 1980s. SCDCom's training programs in fields like welding, supervision and programmable logic control help insure that workers stay flexible in an ever changing labor market. With resources from the Model Corridor program, SCDCom will be able to build a stronger partnership between area business and local schools.

For more information on how to link your business to a local workforce development provider, please call Rob May, CANDO's Director of Industrial Development at 312-372-2636 x232

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