Expanded apprenticeship partnership links groups in Southwestern Illinois

Illinois Business Journal staff report
    A new, statewide apprenticeship model will involve several Southwestern Illinois entities in a plan to improve employment opportunities for residents.
    The model builds on a successful partnership in Chicago — the expanding Chicago Apprentice Network between City Colleges of Chicago, Aon and a growing list of other businesses.
    The agenda contained in a report developed in response to the governor’s executive order focuses on uniting workforce development partners regionally, preparing Illinois workers for careers and connecting job seekers with employers.
    As one of his first steps to address the report’s recommendations, Pritzker announced an apprenticeship partnership between the St. Clair County Workforce Development Group, East St. Louis Community College Center, and Lewis and Clark Community College with Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation to develop Incumbent Worker Medical Assistant Apprentices.
    SIHF is a provider of affordable, accessible and integrated health care serving more than 1,100 patients on a daily basis and providing services to low-income individuals. Apprentices receiving the Medical Assistant Certification through the apprenticeship program will be encouraged and supported to receive further education and credentials for nursing or other related occupations, such as an associate degree that could pave the way for the worker to eventually pursue a Bachelor’s of Nursing.  
    “I want Illinois to be the gold standard when it comes to talent and workforce development. With the creation and continued expansion of apprenticeship programs like the one being offered by the Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation, we will be on track to achieve that goal,” said Erin Guthrie, acting director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
    “SIHF Healthcare enthusiastically supports this innovative apprenticeship model proposed by a dedicated coalition of workforce, economic and community development, higher education, industry, and employer partners in Southwestern Illinois,” said Larry McCulley, president and CEO of SIHF. “We strongly support this project’s focus on expanding apprenticeship opportunities to deliver a pipeline of skilled workers in advanced manufacturing and healthcare to fill the jobs of today, while preparing the workforce of tomorrow.”
    East St. Louis Higher Education Center – Lewis and Clark Community College provides the setting to bring together a respected employer like Southern Illinois Health Foundation, with a quality medical assisting program and an ambitious Workforce Development Group to deliver an apprenticeship program that helps to meet a labor market gap,  said Dr. Linda T. Chapman, vice president of Academic Affairs at Lewis and Clark Community College.

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