IWIB Newsletter
March 2021
Table of Contents:

  1. Why I IWIB-Board Member-Barb Oilschlager
  2. DCEO-Welcome New Director
  3. Apprenticeship-Committee Meeting
  4. Women and Drones Feature Story
  5. IWIB Spring Meeting Recap
  6. Business Engagement Committee Update
  7. Success Story-LWIA 20
  8. WIOA Summit-Registration Now Open
"Why I IWIB"
Barb Oilschlager
Don’t let the quirky hats fool you. Barbara Oilschlager is deadly serious about workforce development. A member of the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board (IWIB) and its previous incarnations since 1992, Barb’s reign may be the longest of any current IWIB member (others may challenge that designation, but we’re going with it unless we hear otherwise.)

Her contributions to the IWIB are backed by nearly 40 years working in the field, from a brief tenure as the Dislocated Worker Program Manager for College of Lake County in Grayslake to her employment with the Lake County Area Vocational System. After starting as a Regional Delivery System Planning Grant Coordinator, Barb was promoted to Regional Vocational Delivery System Administrator in 1988 and continues to hold that position. She earned her degree in Behavioral Science in 1986 from the National College of Education in Evanston, and her Master of Education degree in 1990 from the University of Illinois.

In her current position, Barb is responsible for the leadership, direction, coordination, and administration of 29 vocational system programs, encompassing about 40,000 students at nineteen high schools and an area vocational center in Lake County. Her duties also include developing and coordinating career awareness professional development activities for elementary school teachers and administrators, and the implementation of system grants totaling about $2.5 million per year.

Barb makes sure state and federal reporting requirements are met, curricula developed, programs evaluated, training providers coordinated, and special populations served. She is the primary liaison for her organization with the Illinois State Board of Education Career Development Division, College of Lake County, Lake County Area Planning Council for Adult Education, and the Lake County Workforce Investment Board. She works with over 30 advisory committees from business and industry to identify and meet emerging employment needs.

But she is still recognized by her distinctive hats.

In addition to having dedicated her professional career to workforce development, Barb has devoted her volunteer time to any number of workforce-related causes and received numerous awards and recognitions for the volume and quality of her work. She served 30 years—five 6-year terms—on the Board of Trustees for College of Lake County, including a stint as chair. She has been heavily involved in professional organizations such as the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), and the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA), for whom she has served as president.

She has been honored with the ACCT’s M. Dale Ensign National Trustee Leadership Award, and the Illinois Carl Perkins Humanitarian Award among other honors, and nominated for regional and national honors. She has presented at seminars and conventions and conclaves from her home Lake County to statewide gatherings to national conferences in Denver to international assemblies in Yalta, Austria, and England.

Through it all, IWIB has been a constant passion. “My path to IWIB began back in 1992 when Governor (Jim) Edgar appointed me to the Illinois Council of Vocational Education (ICoVE). Eventually, the ICoVE and the Illinois Job Training Coordinating Council (IJTCC) combined and morphed into the Human Resource Council,” said Barb. “This newly formed council became the Illinois Workforce Investment Board (IWIB) and has now become the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board (IWIB).” Barb has received gubernatorial appointments under six different administrations, including both Democrats and Republicans.

Despite all of the changes, Barb ensures the goals have largely remained the same, “Under these councils, our core mission has relatively remained the same: Develop a strategic workforce plan for the state, advise the Governor on workforce development policy, and guide the state’s implementation of the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA),” Barb said. “However, we are now a vibrant, business-led council that continues to strengthen Illinois’ workforce through partnering with stakeholders, both public and private, from all across Illinois.”

Barb is among the fortunate souls who found her passion early in life and has been able to fulfill it ever since, in positions dealing with granular issues related to workforce and economic development and as a leader in nearly every organization she has served. “From a policy level, these leadership positions have given me the opportunity to help provide each and every student an opportunity to succeed in the world of work,” she said. “This positive impact and results-oriented agenda are why I choose to serve on the IWIB. Being a member of the board’s Continuous Improvement Committee has brought me a new level of commitment for policy evaluation, the continuous improvement process, and helping IWIB committees understand how outcomes are evaluated.”

From a remarkable career that has truly touched and shaped tens of thousands of lives, Barb has learned the true power of collectivism. “I have a ‘mantra’ or ‘tag line’ I have used over my career,” she said, “and it's something I wholeheartedly believe in. Ordinary people, working together with a common purpose, can achieve extraordinary results. The IWIB is proof positive of this, and that’s why I continue to serve with so many talented people. Everything is built on relationships, partnerships, and teamwork. It is important to make new friends each and every day. As long as we all work together, moving forward in the same direction and with one voice—the opportunities for our state are limitless.”

Did we mention how cool she looks in a hat?
Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
Welcome DCEO Director Sylvia Garcia
IWIB and the Office of Employment and Training (OET) welcome Sylvia Garcia as the new Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), a role in which she replaces Erin Guthrie, who had served since the beginning of Governor JB Pritzker’s administration and has now moved on to a private-sector opportunity.

Garcia has a career steeped in public service, including serving as Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff at the Chicago Transit Authority, where she managed the operations of the country’s second-largest transit agency. She has also served at positions in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in the U.S House of Representatives, and for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

 “I am thrilled to appoint Sylvia to serve as the next leader of DCEO,” said Pritzker in announcing the new director. “Her professional background and knowledge across all sectors will be a valuable asset to Illinois’ communities and working families as we build a strong economy that works for everyone.”

Garcia attended her first IWIB quarterly meeting earlier this month, where she addressed the board for the first time. “I am committed to helping this administration grow a strong economy for our businesses, residents, and communities…,” she said.

The new director earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree in Public Service Management from DePaul University. She is a Chicago resident.
IWIB Apprenticeship Committee Meeting
The Apprenticeship Illinois committee of the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board (IWIB) had a lively meeting on March 18 preceding the regular spring meeting of the full board. There is apprenticeship news at the local, state, and national levels, including the discontinuance of Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAP) and associated Standards Recognition Entities. Existing programs will continue to be supported by the federal Department of Labor, according to Illinois apprenticeship director Kim Jones, but no new programs will be approved.

More potential changes to apprenticeship models could be forthcoming as the National Apprenticeship Act makes its way through Congress as the first reauthorization since the original apprenticeship act passed Congress in 1937. The new act, which was passed by the House of Representatives in a bipartisan fashion, would, if it becomes law, provide an influx of some $3.5 billion into expanding apprenticeship nationwide over the next five years.

Jones reported there are currently 485 registered apprenticeship programs in Illinois and a total of nearly 16,000 active registered apprentices across the state. Thirteen new apprenticeship programs and 871 new apprentices have been added this fiscal year. Notably, a number of the new programs have been established in non-traditional apprenticeship sectors.

There was considerable interest among members and attendees in the fledgling Illinois Works program within DCEO that is charged with improving diversity outcomes in apprenticeship across the state. Norman Ruano, deputy director of Illinois Works, previewed a number of new programs aimed at fulfilling the office’s mission. Three major initiatives being carried out by the office include employing at least 10 percent registered apprentices on major public works projects; developing pre-apprenticeship models to prepare workers for registered apprenticeship programs, and a bid credit program that gives preference in future public works projects to contractors who employ apprentices who have completed the Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship program. As the programs come online, an outreach plan will be activated to create awareness.

The apprenticeship committee’s marketing workgroup is led by Tony Fuhrmann of Local Workforce Area 22 and Paul Thompson, executive director of apprenticeship and workforce solutions for City Colleges of Chicago, revealed a 2021 work plan that primarily revolves around 1) creating a unified messaging campaign that includes the development of professional-grade marketing materials that can be plugged and played by Navigators and Intermediaries across the state, and 2) overseeing the development of events designed to engage apprenticeship stakeholders from around the state. This second initiative will focus on National Apprenticeship Week, in November, and the upcoming WIOA Summit. The workgroup asked for and received the committee's recommendation for a modification to the Apprenticeship Illinois logo to add the tagline: Prepare, Train, Retain. The IWIB executive committee will consider the change for final approval in the near future.

Two key elements to the expansion of apprenticeship programs and occupations in the state are the development of quality youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, and Dr. Lazaro Lopez of Wheeling School District 214 and Manny Rodriquez of the Revolution workshop presented on their work in that realm.

The committee approved a recommendation for the full IWIB to modify and strengthen the definition of a high-quality pre-apprenticeship in the state’s Career Pathways Dictionary. The apprenticeship committee has 18 voting member slots, 14 of which are filled. The four remaining positions are reserved for members from the business community, specifically from the manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, and transportation, distribution, and logistics (TDL) employment sectors. Nominations for members in those voting slots are being accepted.
Women And Drones
Helping Women and Girls Get the Skills They Need to Take Off in an Exciting Career
From tracking trash in the UK and counting wildlife near Washington DC to safely surveying damage from natural disasters and filming spectacular tracking shots for your favorite Hollywood movie, drones have become a vital tool in almost every industry. A five-year-old organization based in Glenview, Ill., Women and Drones, brings together women from around the world to help them connect and succeed in the drone industry. It was founded to increase female participation in the economic opportunities of the drone industry by inspiring and supporting more women to pursue careers in STEM and aviation. The organization launched in 2017 with a single website and in just five years has grown into seven brands under the Women and Drones banner and launched several chapters both nationally and internationally, their most recent being established in Africa.
Through their education efforts, Women and Drones supports women and girls in the growing market for talent. The Drone Education section of their website offers a full slate of educational tools and videos for students as well as instructors. Children can use their drone simulator or watch “The Wonder of Flying RobotsTM”. Older students can prepare for the FAA Certified Drone Pilot Exam by reading the Remote Pilot Test Prep Book. Educators can attend virtual drone conferences and access online training about drones designed for both STEM and non-STEM instructors. Their newsletter “Vertical Space” provides valuable career information as well as safety tips and changes in FAA regulations for drones.
According to the FAA, as of 2019, only 10 percent of FAA Certified Drone Pilots were women, with only 6.7% of remote pilots being women. Women’s presence in the field has grown significantly in three short years, going from 793 women remote pilots in 2016 to 10,818 in 2019. Age doesn’t seem to be preventing women from entering the field, with the FAA reporting women Certified Remote Pilots as young as 16 and as old as 80. By partnering with several companies, the Women and Drones Career Center connects women with opportunities at businesses that are committed to creating an inclusive culture where women can thrive. The Career Center lists job openings and offers a free resume review. To encourage both men and women to upload their resumes to the career portal in the Career Center, Women and Drones holds a “Resume Upload Sweepstakes” each year, with the randomly selected winner receiving a $100 gift card.
Opportunities in the remote aviation field are growing, and Women and Drones is committed to taking an active role in creating opportunities for women and girls. When asked why they focus on women and girls, their response is simple, “If we want to see more girls in STEM and aviation, it’s OUR responsibility to inspire them.”
Illinois Workforce Innovation Board
Spring Meeting
The Illinois Workforce Innovation Board (IWIB) had its virtual spring meetings earlier this month, once again utilizing the online format to spread the event over two days, March 16 when an informational meeting was staged to bring IWIB members up to speed on the statewide activities that affect their work, and March 18 to hear reports from core partners as well as a review of the Workforce Consolidation Feasibility Study ordered by the Illinois legislature’s House Bill 2170. Many of the IWIB’s standing committees coordinate their meetings around the same time frame.

At the information meeting on the 16th, members heard from the Illinois Board of Higher Education through its director, Ginger Ostro, about IBHE’s strategic plan; received an update from Stephanie Veck on a recent retreat attended by many IWIB members centered around the board’s Business Engagement Committee and its structures of recruitment, branding, and onboarding policies; and got a first look at the new performance dashboard developed by the board’s Continuous Improvement Committee (CIC), chaired by Marlon McClinton. Dr. Aime’e Julian of the Illinois State Center for Specialized Professional Support provided an overview of plans for the upcoming Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Summit, and Emily Rusca presented on the new training framework being developed for Illinois’ demand occupational sectors.

The board welcomed new DCEO director Sylvia Garcia at its March 18 business meeting, as well as hearing from IWIB core partners; director Rahnee Patrick of Illinois Department of Human Services, deputy director Jennifer Foster of the Illinois Community College Board, director Kristin Richards of Illinois Department of Employment Services, and deputy director Julio Rodriguez of the DCEO’s Office of Employment and Training. NIU’s Brian Richard and ISU’s Jennifer Phillips presented a draft report of the IWIB response to the House Bill 2170 edict for a consolidation study.
Business Engagement Committee
IWIB BEC Retreat & Next Steps
On the afternoon of February 23, 2021, the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board (IWIB) held a virtual retreat to hear and discuss a set of initial key findings developed by its Business Engagement Committee (BEC). These findings, five in all, bring forward a set of challenges identified within the Illinois workforce development system. They reflect the focuses of the BEC in its first year and included a set of action steps for the IWIB to begin to respond to those findings. Those findings and the BEC’s suggested responses were:

1.    The lack of common messaging by Illinois’ workforce development system reduces business use of the system. The BEC will ask the IWIB for authority to identify all entities needed to form a core group of WIOA partners to craft a path toward a unified messaging solution, building upon the existing branding work in Illinois 

2.    The lack of effective and consistent two-way communication between the IWIB and the LWIBs creates a lack of efficiency and synergy in the workforce system. In response, The IWIB is requested to intensify its efforts to create and disseminate a quarterly IWIB electronic newsletter to communicate specifically with LWIB members (as well as others), and to invite the Illinois Workforce Partnership to work with the BEC to examine and develop mechanisms that will serve to better inform the IWIBs own goal and initiative development processes.

3.    A top priority of Illinois’ workforce development system is the need to specifically target small businesses for workforce support. The BEC’s suggested response is for the workforce system to identify, communicate and update available resources for Illinois’ small businesses.

4.    An opportunity exists to leverage existing sector champions across the state to implement industry partnership strategies more effectively. In response, IWIB members should receive deeper training on the concepts and implementation of sector strategies in general, and Talent Pipeline Management in particular, the workforce system should identify and recruit business champions for each region along with new and emerging business partnerships and should develop a plan of action to provide training support for new partnerships using an end-to-end talent pipeline management process.

5.    No standardized recruitment, onboarding, and retention guidance exist for the IWIB’s membership. The BEC, through its Board Recruitment Work Group, has created both initial and detailed orientation materials, for use in onboarding all new members. The BEC is asking that the IWIB review these materials in order begin a process to have them available for use in the onboarding of new IWIB members during 2021. In addition to developing these materials for IWIB use, the BEC intends for these materials to be available for LWIBs that wish to use or amend them for use in their LWIB onboarding processes.

For more information about the retreat and its materials, please visit this page on Illinois workNet.
Success Story
LWIA 20 Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)
The company downsizing of GSI Group LLC in Assumption, IL left Sabrina R. unsure of her future. She was earning $12.65 an hour driving as a forklift driver and packing materials specialist. Due to the layoff, her workgroup would be determined eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) services through the Land of Lincoln Workforce Alliance, LWIA 20. TAA would fund her training and provide cash benefits for living expenses, while enrolled in training. Given this opportunity, Sabrina knew exactly what she wanted to do; go to school and major in Automotive Technology. Sabrina would not be satisfied with just a certificate program, she had greater intentions. Sabrina enrolled in the Associate's Degree program at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois. Sabrina started her training, all while traveling 64 miles to and from school.

During her enrollment, there were some stumbling blocks with transportation and financial issues, plus she relocated increasing her travel to LLCC as an 83-mile roundtrip. Still, she maintained excellent attendance and worked hard in all of her classes; and she excelled. Sabrina was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and she earned five automotive certifications plus her Associate's Degree. Sabrina graduated with a 3.53/4.0 GPA! With her training and credentials in hand, she began her job search. 

She accepted a job with AutoZone, earning $11.50 per hour, and continued pursuing her dream job. It was a struggle finding suitable employment though. She was told that she didn't have the required experience, or she would have to drive so far that the wages would not benefit her and her family. Unbeknownst to her, her dream was right in front of her. After starting at AutoZone they were so impressed with her hard work ethic and her drive for success that they offered her a managerial position within the company. This was not just an offer to be a department manager job; Sabrina was offered the position of General Manager of her own store doubling her salary. Sabrina is now earning $45,500 and she is getting trained by AutoZone to manage some higher volume stores.

Sabrina says: "I loved the TAA program. It was amazing. This opportunity put me somewhere I would never have been and fulfilled my dreams. Diana Lathan, my Trade Adjustment Assistance Career Planner, helped me in so many ways and motivated me throughout the training. The program opened up opportunities for me that I never thought were available.

Diana Lathan, Workforce Coordinator adds: “Sabrina has a ‘never give up' attitude. If a door closed, she'd kick it open. It is difficult to put into words how extremely proud I am of Sabrina's accomplishments. She inspired me, and for that, I say thank you, Sabrina. Keep kicking.” 

LWIA 20 operates a five-county area in Central Illinois and is part of Economic Development Region #1. The counties represented are Cass, Christian, Logan, Menard, and Sangamon.

Registration Is OPEN!
WIOA Summit 2021
The 2021 WIOA Summit will be held as a virtual conference. All sessions will be on Zoom. The theme for the 2021 WIOA Summit is Service Integration: Collaboration and Innovation. This year's summit is designed to share innovation and collaboration efforts that have supported the system through the past year- the implementation of service integration is necessary for success.

April 27, 2021- 8:30 am- 4 :30 pm Conference
April 28, 2021- 8:30 am- 4:30 pm Engaging Virtual Workshop Sessions
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Our mission: To celebrate the accomplishments of the workforce system and its clients, both employers, and job-seekers.
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Our goal: To highlight each local workforce area in Illinois and the unique regional approaches they take to workforce development, to shine a light on each business member of IWIB and contextualize their reasons for serving in this volunteer capacity, and to lift up the many inspiring stories from around the state of job seekers leveraging the workforce system.
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