College submits bid in hopes to build Manufacturing Training Academy

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Champaign, Ill. (WCIA) —

One college in Central Illinois is hoping to help students gain skills for jobs. Parkland College in Champaign submitted a bid for a seven and a half million dollar Manufacturing Training Academy. Now they’re waiting for approval.

The pandemic has forced lots of people out of jobs. This training facility could help people gain skills to become manufacturers.

“I think that with many people having fallen out of work that this comes at a good time,” Pam Lau, Executive Vice President at Parkland College, said.

After working on this project for over three months and speaking to lots of employers, Parkland College is hopeful to be approved for a Manufacturer Training Academy through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

“Manufacturing across the country will tell you, they have lots of vacancies for skilled workers, but they cannot find enough skilled workers,” Lau said.

Employment centers, like Manpower in Champaign County, are also excited to see more skills training facilities potentially opening.

“It’s just such a wonderful thing in the community that people can get that type of training that will help elevate their career options,” Melissa Wilhelm said.

Manufacturing isn’t the only field in need of workers.

“We’ve seen an uptick in recruitment orders, you know not just in manufacturing, but in administrative, accounting, IT, human resources,” Wilhelm said.

As Pam Lau tells WCIA, manufacturing was not hit hard by the pandemic, so gaining skills for this line of work would provide stability for those in search of a job.

“It provides a structured option for people to upskill and earn well,” Lau said.

The Parkland Manufacturing training academy will offer multiple services, including credit and non-credit skills training, as well as different program lengths.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports in March and April of 2020, unemployment in Illinois jumped from over 200,000 to over one million. It has dropped since then. As of December, unemployment was below half a million.

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