At a time when the national and local economies are undergoing a significant transformation, Chicago’s workforce training and development programs are more important than ever to the economic future of the city, Mayor Richard M. Daley said today.
“During the worst economic times that most of us can remember, families everywhere are hurting and struggling to get by and pay their bills. A large part of government’s responsibility at all levels is to protect our working families by speeding up our economic recovery, growing our economy and getting people back to work,” Daley said at a news conference at the opening of the new Chicago Workforce Center, 1700 W. 18th St.
The Mayor said that one of the most important tools the City has for helping achieve those goals is its network of workforce centers. The workforce center is often the first place an unemployed or laid off person goes to get help.
The workforce center is a place where residents who previously had jobs and want to continue working receive free services such as skills assessments, job search assistance, help in creating resumes and access to other support. It is also the place local businesses go to find skilled workers.
The new Chicago Workforce Center in Pilsen is operated by a group of city and state partner agencies and the not-for-profit National Able Network is the delegate agency that receives federal Workforce Investment Act funding through the City for the center.
National Able has invested more than $2 million in the new building, which will be able to serve as many as 700 individuals a day.
The Pilsen facility is the first Workforce Center managed by a not-for-profit organization, Daley said, and is proving to be a model for efficient delivery of services and easy access for the clients it serves.
The new building has 22,000 square feet, with more meeting and classroom space, more computers and more partners on site to help job seekers than the facility it replaced.
Services and programs are offered by:
• Chicago Department of Family and Support Services
• National Able Network, Inc.
• Illinois Department of Employment Security
• Chicago Department of Community Development
• Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
• Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs
• City Colleges of Chicago
• LIFT — National Student Partnerships
• Job Corps
• Westside Holistic Family Services
• Illinois Department of Human Services
Daley pointed out that the City recently has re-focused its workforce and education programs on the sectors that are critical to the future of the local economy: health care, hospitality, transportation and technology.
Last year, he created the Chicago Workforce Investment Council, whose job is to ensure that the public investments made in education, job training and business support the overall health of the economy and to create a workforce whose skills match the needs of local employers
In addition, this year Chicago will use more than $20 million for the new “Chicago Career Tech,” which is a major new job training initiative designed to create a corps of technology professionals to strengthen the City’s position as a national leader for information technology businesses.
“Our challenge now is to seize the future and the opportunities it offers,” Daley said.
“That's why we are working to bring new businesses, new industries and new opportunities to Chicago to create new jobs, not just replace those that have already been lost. And it’s why we must have a workforce trained to fill those jobs,” he said.
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