Workforce Development Strategy Summary
Table of Contents
In the past, many people in the United States could expect lifetime employment armed just with the education they received in high school, but today an increasing percentage of jobs require educational attainment beyond high school. In addition, many workers can now expect to hold multiple jobs over their lifetimes, often requiring them to learn new skills, especially as the evolution of technological and business practices accelerates.
An educated and employed populace is essential to the future prosperity, quality of life, and economic competitiveness of our region. Businesses of all types consistently rate the quality and availability of a diverse and talented workforce as one of the most important factors influencing their location decisions and ability to succeed. But at present, there is no regional workforce development system in place, and services are delivered and funded by a variety of public and private entities throughout the Chicago region.
This strategy paper assesses existing conditions, and provides recommendations for developing a regional workforce development system which would foster regional coordination and be flexible enough to adapt to what are expected to be the ever-changing needs of employers and individuals.
A sample of findings:
The Structure of the Region's Workforce Development "System"
Most workforce development or job training that individuals get outside of traditional education systems is accessed through employers. But the benefits of employer-based training accrue mostly to higher skilled incumbent workers, as low-income individuals are the most likely to turn to public systems to find ways to acquire the skills necessary to get employment, maintain employment, and advance in the labor market.
The region's "system" is really one core system (federal programs under the Workforce Investment Act, or WIA) that intersects with three other systems (education, economic development and human services), each of which does workforce development activities but has a different emphasis than the federal system.
Labor market and Economic Context for Workforce Development
A recent analysis from the Workforce Alliance showed that more than half the jobs in Illinois (53%) require that workers have more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree. Projections show that these "middle skill" jobs will continue to make up the greatest number of jobs in the state's economy.
If you're interested in learning more about workforce development, please review the following CMAP strategy report. Comments and criticism are encouraged.