As manufacturing is the second-largest sector in the Chicago region, employing more than 400,000 people, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to make sure that companies can find workers.
So the Mayor Emanuel joined World Business Chicago, Chicago Federation of Labor and business leaders last week to put in place a program that will place workers in 1,000 open manufacturing jobs over the next year.
The initiative, which is part of the Mayor’s 2015 budget, will match a minimum of 1,000 qualified job seekers to open manufacturing jobs and link residents who need additional skills to training and apprenticeship programs that can result in full-time employment.
Since he took office over 100 manufacturers have located or expanded in the city.
“This program to connect 1,000 workers to manufacturing jobs builds on the work that we have done to reestablish Chicago as one of the country’s major manufacturing hubs,” Mayor Emanuel said. “From working to bring the Digital Manufacturing Lab to Chicago to investing in College to Career manufacturing training programs at Richard J. Daley Community College, attracting new manufacturers to Chicago and training and supporting future manufacturing talent, we are helping to ensure that Chicago’s economy will continue to grow well into the future.”
The program will focus on three areas of need: raising awareness of manufacturing jobs in the city’s and the region’s manufacturing sector; increasing capacity at existing workforce organizations to help them to match job seekers to jobs and training programs that meet the needs of area manufacturing businesses; and facilitating coordination through a web portal that will connect job seekers with training and employment opportunities.
“These manufacturing jobs are available today, and manufacturers are engaging and ready to hire,” said Jeff Malehorn, president of World Business Chicago. “This program has the ability to grow our economy by $400 million and demonstrate to the world that Chicago is the world leader in the new era of manufacturing.”
The program also includes a focused effort to link returning citizens with criminal backgrounds seeking a second chance at the middle class to jobs in manufacturing. “ Access to good jobs that pay decent wages is the most important factor to people with criminal backgrounds successfully transitioning back into society," said Claudia Banks, Safer Foundations director of Marketing and Communications. "These jobs will allow returning citizens to become contributing members of their families and communities, as well as positively impact our state economy instead of being a drain on it."
The initiative will be supported by $200,000 in the Mayor’s 2015 Budget along with more than $750,000 in funds and in-kind contributions raised by the WBC Advisory Council for Chicagoland Manufacturing – a group of 36 manufacturing industry leaders from across Chicagoland and chaired by the Mayor’s office – and in partnership with the Chicago Federation of Labor, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Grant Thornton, Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, Chicago Urban League, and over 50 more partners.