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Over the last several years working with Southland manufacturing companies, CSEDC, with its workforce partner, OAI, Inc., has discovered that establishing a regional platform connecting them to their future workforce is critical for their long-term investment decisions in the Southland as well as demonstrating to firms considering locating in the Southland

Current work to Solve Problem

CSEDC, OAI, Inc. and its partners in the Calumet Manufacturing Industry Sector Partnership have created significant and substantially impactful programs to address this regional platform. These programs include:

  • Southworks Engineering and Robotics Olympics: Over 20 companies each sponsor a local Southland High School Team and compete in a regional competition;

  • Southworks Regional Manufacturing Day: Over 30 High School groups each tour a local Southland manufacturing company; Southworks led tours of High School Counselors or regional manufacturing companies to enable them better understand careers in

  • Manufacturing Internship programs: We have 12 participants enrolled in our internship program and they are set to begin what we call our boot camp phase in the coming weeks. This portion of the program serves to provide training, instruction and certification in Forklift, OSHA, core competency math, financial literacy and soft skills such as interviewing, resume writing and interpersonal communication. The goal is to prepare the participants for entry into the workforce and provide our internship partners with an employee that is ready to be an asset on day-one. These are 18 to 24 year old participants with basic manufacturing knowledge that are available for an eight week internship starting in March. Their salary and workers compensation are covered by our program. Please let me know if you would be interested in hosting an intern and/or providing a tour of your facility for this group. Tours are scheduled for the end of February with internships starting in March

  • Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center: IMEC offers consulting and training services to manufacturing companies on a variety of subjects in order to improve business operations. 

  • The Calumet Manufacturing Industry Sector Partnership: facilitation supporting employer action teams including talent development with an emphasis on secondary education. The employer action team hosted a tour with over 12 High School Counselors visiting three manufacturing companies to review careers is manufacturing;

  • Retention Plus: We offer an on-site counselor to work with employees to organize services that assist with problems that may inhibit their ability to fully contribute to their work. We have data to show that the fees for this work provides a substantial return.

  • On the Job Training: contracts and apprenticeship programs for students in regional High Schools or participating in internship programs; and

  • Web Based communication platform: to connect companies with students by providing mentorship through an online program and posting internship openings and hiring events at High Schools. Supporting investments by High Schools in acquiring machinery to enable them to offer training programs leading to industry recognized training certificates

  • Apprenticeships programs: We partner with Prairie State College and can work to develop an Apprenticeship program that includes facility-specific training as well as supplemental instruction at Prairie State College by connecting regional community colleges to regional manufacturing companies to enable companies to offer DOL approved Apprenticeships and other on the job training programs.

  • Soft and Hard Skills Curriculum and Mentorship Training: is an ongoing effort to improve the ability of people to acquire necessary skills and for teachers and mentors to teach those skills

This work is supported by a variety of public and private organizations. It is also important to contribute to and learn from State Agencies involved in this work such as the Illinois Apprenticeship Collaborative. The Illinois Apprenticeship Collaborative is a broad alliance of workforce and community development organizations, businesses, educators, and other stakeholders acting collectively to expand equitable apprenticeships throughout the state of Illinois.

It is also supported by the Illinois 60 by 2025 network. CSEDC and OAI, together with area schools and municipal leaders are members of the Illinois 60 by 2025 network, which is a network of communities in Illinois that are committed to the goal of ensuring that 60% of all adults have a college or career credential by 2025.

These education and workforce efforts are part of other economic development programs part of the region’s Integrated Economic Development, Workforce and Education strategy to achieve sustainable redevelopment by capitalizing on the area’s assets, including a rich infrastructure for freight transportation, logistics and manufacturing. By coordinating the implementation of an Industrial Jobs program with public, not-for-profit, and private sector partners, CSEDC and OAI are ensuring that manufacturing and logistics job growth will not be stalled by impediments such as land assembly, brownfields contamination, poor road infrastructure or storm water management challenges. The partners will ensure that lack of a trained workforce is not an impediment to industrial growth either.