Community colleges help fill the skills gap

The U.S. unemployment rate is 7.3%, yet there are an estimated 600,000 job openings in advanced manufacturing nationally. In the state of Illinois, the unemployment rate as of May was 9.1%, but the state has 30,000 unfilled manufacturing openings. That disconnect is at the heart of a statewide drive in Illinois to give its manufacturers the skilled workforce they require to grow their businesses and boost total employment for the state.

Maria H. Coons, executive Director of Workforce and Strategic Alliances, Harper College, detailed a program that has brought together community colleges, secondary schools, manufacturers, and economic development programs to get local businesses the skilled employees they need and provide good-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing to Illinois's youth.

Coons spoke about the program at the Tech Theater presentation forum presented as part of UBM Canon's collocated advanced technologies shows at Chicago's McCormick Place, including PLASTEC Midwest, Design & Manufacturing Midwest, ATX Midwest, Pack Zone, Quality Expo, and MD&M Chicago....

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