What is the Critical Skill Shortages Initiative?
The Critical Skill Shortages Initiative is part of an unprecedented plan to distribute training funds throughout the state in an effort to create jobs and spur economic growth in Illinois.
Launched by The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Governors Office, the goals of the initiative are to identify the key sectors and industries that drive our regional economy, determine occupational shortages within those sectors, and develop solutions.
What is the process for the initiative?
As part of the plan to create jobs and spur growth in Illinois, the state was divided into ten Economic Development Regions. The counties of Workforce Investment Areas 25 and 26 were combined to form one of these regions called the Southern Economic Development Region (SEDR). The Southern region is composed of the southernmost 19 counties of Illinois: Alexander, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White and Williamson.
Staff from the Southern 14 Workforce Investment Board and the Southern Illinois Workforce Investment Board joined forces to prepare and execute a plan of action for the activities of the initiative. Man-Tra-Con, Corp. of Marion was designated by the workforce boards to be the grant administrator for the initiative.
Recognizing that the plan would only be successful if the project was supported by many different groups and individuals throughout the 19 county region, the Workforce Boards implemented a plan to include key entities. The following is a graphical illustration of the entities which have collaborated on the project thus far:
Individuals from each of these groups began meeting in November 2003 to identify the industries vital to our economy. Education, Healthcare, and the combined industries of Manufacturing, Distribution, Warehousing, & Transportation were identified as key to the growth of our local economy and were targeted for training funds through the CSSI grant. Subsequently, focus group participants identified occupations within these industries as critical to our local economy. These occupations included the following: registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, math & science teachers, Special Education teachers, and entry level jobs in the combined Manufacturing industries. Grant proposals requesting training funds for these occupations were submitted, however, the Healthcare and the combined Manufacturing industries only were chosen by DCEO for consideration under this initiative.
Successful steps with the initiative
- Over 17 committee and focus group meetings have been held to gather data and information for the initiative.
- Over 200 individuals from business, labor, education, workforce development and economic development throughout the 19 county region have participated thus far by helping to identify the industries vital to the economy of our region.
- The SEDR was awarded a planning grant for the initiative in the amount of $156,870 to assist with identifying the industries and occupations critical to the 19 counties.
- The SEDR was awarded a Healthcare Training Grant in the amount of $558,000 to support projects aimed at decreasing the critical nursing shortage in southern Illinois. Learn more about the Healthcare Initiative.
- The SEDR has been approved for $240,000 under the Critical Skill Shortages Initiative for a Manufacturing Training Grant to support activities aimed toward improving worker skills in entry-level occupations in the manufacturing, distribution, transportation, and warehousing sectors. Learn more about the Manufacturing Initiative.
Who benefits from this initiative?
We all do! Economic development and workforce development go hand in hand. An educated and competently trained workforce strengthens our businesses. Strong businesses strengthen our local economy. The Southern Economic Development Region submitted grant applications to compete for up to $15 million in training funds. These training funds will be used to enhance our local workforce which will in turn benefit our local economy.
Contact us for additional information about the CSSI project.