April 2015 newsletter Workforce Connection

April, 2015
Business Leaders Invited to
Workforce Forum
The Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance, the workforce board serving Boone, Stephenson and Winnebago Counties, is hosting a meeting on Thursday, April 23rd at 7:30am at Klehm Arboretum in Rockford to
discuss employment and workforce issues facing the region.
“It is critical that business and community leaders discuss this subject,” said Mike Schablaske, Executive
Director of Transform Rockford, one of the organizers of the forum. “From the visioning sessions, the
community expressed a desire for the region to have a skilled and sought-after workforce – enabling all
families to improve their standard of living. Where our people are employed and per capita income is
above the national average. We must work to prepare and connect people to available opportunities.”
“There is news every week about businesses opening or expanding in the Rockford area and needing to
hire additional workers,” according to Karen Brown, chair of the workforce board, writing in the most
recent issue of the Rockford Chamber VOICE. “The problem facing many employers is that they are having trouble finding workers with the right skills.”
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss business needs and what steps that can be taken to connect unemployed and under-employed workers to available jobs. The most recent report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security lists the unemployment rate for the area at 7%, down three points from a
year ago, but still above the state and national averages.
“We are pleased to be a partner in this forum learning what can be done to bring employers and workers
together,” said Paul Logli, CEO of the United Way of Rock River Valley. “Ending the poverty cycle in
this community can only be done with job growth, employment opportunities, and a prepared workforce.
United Way is happy to bring together all three.”
Business owners and managers, human resources professionals, representatives from economic development and education and others interested in participating in the forum can register on-line through The
Workforce Connection website at www.theworkforceconnection.org . Employers are also being asked to
complete a short survey on their current and future workforce needs.
Along with the Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance and Transform Rockford, organizers of the forum
include the Northwest Illinois Development Alliance, the United Way of Rock River Valley, Rockford
Housing Authority, Rockford Area Economic Development Council and The Workforce Connection.
Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance
Page 2
Representatives from agencies working to assist ex-offenders in the job market meet to share ideas and best
practices. Consultant Ben Kushner (right) moderates the April 1 meeting of the TriCounty Reentry Coalition,
the assistance made possible through the Strong Cities Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative
Ellis Heights Job Training Center Proposed
Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance is among the partners involved in plans for the WestTech
Career Center, being proposed for the Ellis Heights neighborhood in Rockford. The County is
coordinating the efforts to develop the site, which would include everything from soft skills
training and GED classes to technical and vocational programs. The project parallels with the
United Way’s efforts to increase funding for services and programs in the Ellis Heights and
Midtown area, part of the Strong Neighborhoods Initiative.
RVC Announces Health Sciences Building Project
Rock Valley College will soon break ground on a new main
campus building project— a Health Science Center— to help
meet the growing demand for nurses and other health care
workers in our region.
The new 117,000 square-foot, four-story building will provide world class learning facilities for students in the nursing
and allied health fields. In a collaboration to provide opportunities to nursing students beyond the
associate’s degree, Saint Anthony College of Nursing will occupy almost two floors of the building
and offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in nursing. The collaboration will create a
seamless way to earn a four-year nursing degree on the RVC campus.
“This is a very exciting collaboration for both institutions, the type that truly transforms a community,” said RVC president Mike Mastroianni. “We know that there will be a shortage of nurses nationwide in less than five years. This is an opportunity for students in our region to participate in fully accredited programs in one of the newest, state-of-the-art facilities in the Midwest.”
Of the total square footage, Rock Valley College will occupy approximately 80,000, with Saint Anthony College of Nursing residing in the remainder, located primarily on the third and fourth floor.
Construction work on the Health Sciences Center is anticipated to begin in June 2015, with classes
beginning in the spring semester (January) 2017. The building will include 13 classrooms and 10 laboratories. (from Rock Valley College news release)
State Officials to Meet on Workforce Needs
The Illinois Community College Board, Illinois Community College Council of Presidents, and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, in partnership with the local workforce
investment boards, are co-sponsoring regional forums to discuss needs of Illinois employers. The
meeting in this area is being held at the RVC Stenstrom Center on May 1.
April, 2015
Page 3
Herman Trend Alert Degrees Mattering Less
Too much of our entire educational system, is built around the idea that some students are intelligent and others
are not. Fortunately, as we have reported in a previous Trend Alert, new educational methods can help previously categorized "slow students" to catch up.
What's Working Now
Websites like Khan Academy allow us to flip the classroom and give slower learners those valuable opportunities. "They motivate students by convincing them they can succeed and have a better life through working hard
in school."
Another example is the KIPP Schools (Knowledge is Power Program). They do a "brilliant job", even for kids from
disadvantaged backgrounds. Not only do they keep order so the students are not distracted from learning, but
they also feature long hours. They have a long school day, a long school week (some school on Saturdays), and a
long school year (school during the summer). KIPP teachers also have expectations of all students.
What's Coming
In The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out by Clay Christensen
and Henry J. Eyring, the authors outline how "the potential in each student can be unlocked by combining the
power of computers, software, and the internet". Combine that with the human touch of a teacher-as-coach to motivate students to work hard at learning and we have a successful formula. Technology brings together several
important factors:
 Lessons customized students' individual learning styles at a reasonable cost
 Lectures from some of the most talented instructors in the world
 Gamification elements to engage learners
 The flexibility to allow students to learn at their own paces
 And finally, a human teacher to act as coach.
The Shift from Credentials to Certification
There is an additional driving force transforming education: the shift from credentials to certification. The current
system mostly emphasizes diplomas and degrees---credentials proving that a student has been spent hours sitting in class, while paying just enough attention to score at least as well as the other students on exams. Increasingly, employers will ask for proof that a potential employee actually has the particular skills needed.
Certificates that credibly attest to a student's ability to write computer code, write a decent essay, use a spreadsheet, or give a persuasive speech are going to be worth more and more. Any training program that takes this
need seriously will help students gain those skills and "certify" them for employers in a way that sidesteps the
existing educational establishment.
Coding Bootcamps: a Shining Example
The coding bootcamps that we see throughout the world reflect a model that can work for many other skills as
well. For many students, that kind of certification of specific skills is a very attractive alternative to a two-year
Greater Effectiveness is Coming
Once this transformation of education for Kindergarten through Grade 12 education is complete, it will cost about
the same as it does now, however it will be two or three times as effective. College education will not only be
much more effective than it is now, it will also be much more financially accessible. A few expensive elite colleges and universities will still exist; these institutions are not only providing an education, they are selling social
status, and the opportunity to experience celebrity professors as well.
Just as author Dr. Susan Aldridge outlines in her groundbreaking book, "Wired for Success", less-respected elite
colleges and universities will find it very difficult to compete with the cheaper models for technology-enhanced
learning. Perhaps the problem of college costs will be a thing of the past for anyone focused on real learning, as
opposed to social status?
Special thanks to Trend Alert Subscriber Dan Abelow for calling this important topic to our attention, and to Miles Kimball, Professor, University of Michigan, writing on Quartz. To read the whole article, visit http://qz.com/340304 .
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The mission of the Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance is
to create a competitive, skilled and educated workforce by
providing a system for individuals to gain meaningful employment responsive to the needs of business.
303 N. Main St.
Rockford, Illinois
998 Belvidere Road Belvidere, Illinois
27 W. Stephenson Freeport, Illinois
Phone: 815-395-6600
Fax: 815-395-8548
TTY: 815-966-2436
E-mail: [email protected]
The Workforce Connection is a partnership of state and
federally funded employment and training programs,
economic development agencies and educational entities
committed to providing a workforce that meets the needs of
our business community, now and in the future.
The One-Stop Centers in Rockford, Freeport and Belvidere
provide one contact for employers to find workers and for
job-seekers to receive training, education and employment
Programs and services are funded by the Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance (LWIA #3), IL Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, and the U..S. Department of Labor. Equal opportunity employer/ program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact the WIA Equal
Opportunity Officer at (815) 395-6688 or TTY (815) 966-2436 or (815) 547-0253. This program is subject to the provisions of the “Jobs for Veterans Act” Public Law
107-288, which provides priority of service to veterans and spouses of certain veterans.
Dates to Remember:
Tuesday, April 28th @8:30am
Service Delivery Committee
Finance Committee TBA
Tuesday, May 5th @8:00am
Northern IL Workforce Alliance
Thank you from Paul
I was extremely moved by the kind words, special resolution, and beautiful engraved pocket watch for my send-off from the board of the Northern
Illinois Workforce Alliance. Thank you so much for this meaningful remembrance from my board tenure. I truly enjoyed my association with
the WIB board and was proud to see the organization grow into its threecounty territory with a full-time staff helping to implement creative and
sustainable ways for those seeking work to find jobs and for employers to
find qualified workers.
In my retirement, I will continue to be an advocate for the goals and objectives of the Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance. Best wishes in all of
your future partnerships and projects.
Wednesday, May 20th @8:00am
Youth Council
This schedule is tentative. You will receive an email officially informing you of a
scheduled committee meeting. Please let us
know if you are unable to attend. The Illinois
Open Meetings law does not allow us to conduct any business without a quorum.
The Workforce Connection is on
Paul Callighan
Unemployment Drops from 2014
The latest report from the Illinois Department of Employment
Security shows unemployment for the Rockford metro area in
February at 7%, down three points from a year ago. According
to the report, there were 2400 jobs added in the area in the last
year, many of them in manufacturing. Unemployment in Stephenson County was also down, from 9.5 to 7.3%