The latest data I saw from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), shows 18,184 individuals that are unemployed in the Rockford Metropolitan Statistical Area. Now that’s a lot of people and I’m sure they have varying levels of education, skills and poverty levels.
I’m also told that there are 35,000 local residents who do not have a high school diploma or GED certificate.
The latest study done by AngelouEconomics identified two urgent, critical, time-sensitive priorities that addresses workforce development to improve the region’s competitiveness and move the region’s economy forward. They stressed the 25 to 44 age groups as a key group and they stressed attracting talented people to the region.
My question then, is what about the 18,184 individuals that remain unemployed? Are we developing programs to educate them or retrain them? After all, they already reside in the region; not much convincing to have them relocate here; they’re already here!
I am aware that there is a Workforce Investment Board initiative aimed at developing programs to make getting a GED available to as many as sign up. But is this enough? How can we get more of the unemployed into retraining programs, getting that GED certificate and other programs to get these individuals back into the workforce?
Maybe we have the solution to the workforce problem right under our nose!