By Tim Nugent
Too often, students across Illinois have graduated from high school unprepared for their next step in life, whether it is college or career. Therefore, we applaud Governor Rauner and the General Assembly on the passage and signing of HB5729, the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act (PWR) to address this need.
The signing of this bill is the culmination of years of work and collaboration from a broad group of stakeholders, and it will help to advance the “60 by 25” goal in our state of having 60% of Illinoisans acquire a high-quality postsecondary certificate or degree by the year 2025. The Economic Alliance of Kankakee County is also committed to that goal as a member of the Illinois 60 by 25 Network.
PWR ensures that our state will implement strategies that will align what colleges and employers expect from students to what they are actually learning during their elementary and secondary years. This will reduce college students’ need for remedial education in community college and provide the skills high school and postsecondary graduates will need to succeed in the workforce.
The Economic Alliance of Kankakee County is committed to supporting PWR implementation by identifying and implementing innovative programming that builds awareness among our educators and student population as to the needs of business and industry in the Digital Age. In close partnership with the Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley, the Grundy Livingston Kankakee Workforce Board, and local high schools, colleges and universities, the Alliance supports advanced training and education of our existing workforce, and builds systems and tools – like the workkankakee.org web portal – that expose school-age students to local career opportunities.
It is the belief of the Economic Alliance that this increased engagement and knowledge around real-world work skills and opportunities will help to improve educational attainment rates, a primary goal outlined in Kankakee County’s 2014-19 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).
We look forward to a better future for Illinois high school and postsecondary graduates because of this legislation. Illinois’ future is our students, and this will go a long way toward helping them achieve success in college, career, and life.
Tim Nugent is President/CEO of the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County, a public-private partnership that works to create jobs and expand the economic base by improving the local business climate in the Greater Chicago community of Kankakee County, Illinois. Working under Kankakee County’s 2014-19 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, the Alliance is challenged to help spur $500 million in new business investment and 500 new jobs, along with assisting 150 prospective new businesses. For more information, visit kankakeecountyed.org or phone 815.935.1177.