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Illinois tops workforce development rankings

Site Selection Magazine ranks Illinois #1 for workforce development in Midwest


For the second consecutive year, Illinois has been named the number one leader for workforce development in the Midwest region. The top ranking highlights the State of Illinois’ commitment to expanding access to innovative workforce programs and making critical investments through legislation and programming to reduce barriers to good-paying jobs in order to create a thriving business ecosystem for jobseekers, employees and employers.

The Site Selection magazine ranking recognizes “states that performed well in a set of measures that gauge workforce-related aspects of states’ overall employment climate.” It combines information from CNBC, U.S. News, and other organizations.

Illinois’ workforce development is rooted in equity, innovation, and growth for the future. The state fosters apprenticeship programs at every level and has over 400 Registered Apprenticeship programs for more than 20,000 active apprentices. 

Starting with Illinois’ youth, the state is building cohesive programs to ensure every individual that enters the workforce has adequate preparation and the ability to access the resources needed when choosing careers. Illinois’ youth apprenticeship programs provide a foundation for students aged 16-24 in high school and postsecondary education to choose between multiple pathways in high school, leading to college, full-time employment, or a combination of both.

In 2021, the Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program was launched to increase access to good-paying jobs in the trades for historically underrepresented populations. Since the launch of Illinois Works, more than $40 million has been awarded to 36 diverse organizations across the state, paving the way for over 4,100 participants to secure jobs and greater opportunities in construction and the trades.

“Illinois’ greatest asset is its people, and through a variety of pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship and workforce development programs throughout the state, DCEO is opening the doors to opportunities to join the state’s top-ranked workforce,” said DCEO Director Kristin Richards. “Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, the State of Illinois will continue to provide resources and programs to support the number one workforce in the Midwest.”

“The hardworking people of Illinois are at the forefront of our state’s economic progress, making us the top state in the Midwest for workforce development for the second consecutive year,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Since day one, my administration has been committed to making Illinois the best place to live. That’s why we’ve made transformative investments in workforce development, education, and our businesses—ensuring that every Illinoisan has an opportunity to thrive.”

“St. Clair County is pleased to be able to support Governor Pritzker and Director Richards’ efforts making Illinois the number one leader for workforce development in the Midwest region,” added St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark A. Kern. “Through our workforce development programs, St. Clair County will continue to focus on developing high quality training programs that remove barriers and offer opportunities to populations that have often been overlooked. By developing these talent pipelines, St. Clair County is able to provide a skilled and ready workforce to both new and expanding employers throughout the region.”

“The southwestern Illinois economic region, anchored by Madison and St. Clair counties, is driven by partnerships that lead to success in workforce development,” Madison County Employment and Training Director Tony Fuhrmann further noted. “The ability for business, education, workforce, and economic development to work together has made the region an innovative leader with projects to help meet the workforce needs of businesses in our region. The southwestern Illinois region has been a leader in the creation of apprenticeship programs that include, but are not limited to, apprenticeship programs for individuals with disabilities who are often overlooked as possible employees.”


(Editor’s note: This story also appears in the February 2024 print edition of the Illinois Business Journal.)

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