Future of work and education,
Future of Illinois.


As advanced technologies, international supply chains, and automation disrupt the American workforce, the need for high-quality, highly-skilled workers remains. America’s aging infrastructure and workforce needs are changing on a daily basis and cannot meet the demand. Recent events have highlighted our need for a more robust skilled labor talent pipeline to build a strong, reliable workforce.

At the same time, students in low-income and communities of color have high rates of unemployment, but little or no preparation for, or familiarity with, trade work. Without improvements, the gap between workforce needs and talented workers will widen.

The Future of Illinois coalition is on a mission to change the lives of young people by aligning their knowledge and skills to the demands of high quality careers.

This powerful, passionate coalition has come together to show youth that the skilled trades, advanced manufacturing, and technology careers can lead to a great life. These are pathways to fulfilling jobs with excellent pay, great healthcare benefits, and job security. The Future of Illinois initiative provides youth the opportunity to give back to their community, achieve their ambitions, and earn the satisfaction of a hard day's work. And it is an exciting chance to learn these valuable skills from the best of the best—journeymen, master craftsmen, and industry experts—who equip youth with the knowledge, training, and experience to realize the American Dream.

Even before COVID-19 threw ice water on strong economic and employment growth, most states, including Illinois, struggled to find enough qualified workers to fill available jobs. In the span of a few weeks, however, COVID-19 exacerbated Illinois’ economic and workforce challenges, particularly in exposing the state’s vulnerabilities with expatriated and broken supply chains. The Future of Illinois can help restore a strong, diverse workforce.

Join us as we invest in kids and build the future. Will you support the Future of Illinois?



Numbers at a Glance

19%
Of those students who graduated Chicago Public Schools in 2010, only 19% had graduated college by 2016. Within that same cohort, only 10% of Black males and 13% of Latino men graduated college within 6 years.

56%
African Americans make up 56% of the incarcerated population in Illinois despite only representing 14.6% of the total population in Illinois.

42%
53% of available jobs in Illinois require middle skills, yet only 42% of the available workforce are mid-skilled workers.

45%
45% of Black men in Chicago, ages 20-24, are neither in school nor employed.

45B
$45 billion in statewide infrastructure projects under Rebuild Illinois resulting in 500k+ jobs

Billions
Billions in private mega-developments in Chicago, including, The 78, Lincoln Yards, and the River District

Our Plan


We are united in an effort to expand and create new K-12 pathways into upwardly mobile jobs, regardless of a student’s neighborhood or family income.

We recognize that students have unique skill sets and needs, which should be supported. For some students, the standard, college-for-all education model does not engage their interests or meet their needs. For instance, of those students who graduated Chicago Public Schools in 2010, only 19% had graduated college by 2016. Minority students face even more challenges. Within that same cohort, only 10% of Black males and 13% of Latino men graduated college within 6 years. Statewide, nearly 50% of students require post-secondary remediation in at least one subject.

We believe by uniting quality education and skills training, Illinois students will be prepared to meet workforce shortages and employers will have a broader and more diverse supply of workers.

53% of available jobs in Illinois require middle skills, yet only 42% of the available workforce are mid-skilled workers. The Future of Illinois initiative has the transformative potential to merge educational and economic resources in a way that generates pathways out of poverty for large-scale numbers of students.

We believe these employment pathways will support community-level advancements and set up Illinois students for a lifetime of success.

45% of Black men in Chicago, ages 20-24, are neither in school nor employed. In East St. Louis, the number of young people in general who are idle is upwards of 30%. Data reveals the significant bearing employment has on family stability, positive physical and mental health, lower crime rates, economic self-sufficiency, and, not least of all, happiness and a sense of dignity.
Together, the Future of Illinois can close the workforce gap by establishing high-quality, private, career and technical education (CTE) high schools that offer training and development for credential and certifications, earn while you learn, and apprenticeship opportunities. These high schools will recruit students from Illinois’ low-income and minority communities, where many students are often overlooked and underestimated. Kids with financial need would receive scholarships incentivized by tax credits through the Invest in Kids Act.
This group of CTE schools across the state would help grow Illinois’ workforce, meet the growing demand for skilled trades, and expand high school apprenticeship opportunities for low-income and minority students. These schools would offer a traditional school curriculum, but pair that with workforce training and character development to prepare students to succeed after graduation, whether that is directly into a career pathway, an apprenticeship program, or continue pursuing further post-secondary education.

Labor Organizations

Education Organizations

Community Organizations

Businesses

connect@futureofillinois.org
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