IWIB Newsletter
September 2020
Response COVID-19
Lake County Workforce Development
Lake County Workforce Development responded to COVID-19 by quickly developing and deploying virtual services and programs. Lake County Workforce Development established a remote call center to answer questions from jobseekers or refer them to the appropriate community or state partner. On a daily basis, an average of 25 customers are referred for a Job Center service, directed to Illinois Department of Employment Security for Unemployment Insurance questions/claims, referred to a career specialist for career and job coaching or provided information on employers with current hiring opportunities. Caller feedback indicates that they appreciate the ability to speak to a friendly person and receive valuable referral information. 

Lake County Workforce Development enhanced its online presence by creating and launching tools to help unemployed individuals with job search resources, access to grant funds for training and educational services, as well as upload their resumes to employers for review. Over 100 individuals have accessed these new online resources, including 16 unemployed individuals who participated in the first on-line workshop, “Job Search Resources During COVID-19” on April 28th. After hearing participant feedback regarding their greatest needs, a second workshop was developed titled “Your Personal Brand & Resumes” which launched on May 26, 2020. Participants who completed this workshop were emailed sample resumes and invited to work with a team member to customize their resume.

By June, Lake County Job Center and partners developed additional workshops on topics including:

·     Industry Snapshot focusing on a specific sector, starting with Healthcare
·     Navigating SNAP and TANF
·     Defenses Against Eviction
·     Navigating Medicaid Benefits

In addition, a virtual information session was introduced. Attendees view a slideshow regarding Lake County Job Center partners, services and training. They access the same documents they would receive at a live information session at the Lake County Job Center and can complete a WIOA Pre-screening application online. Those who do so will be contacted within 24 business hours regarding next steps to qualify for a grant. Since the virtual information session was launched in April, 74 individuals have submitted applications.

Since March 1st, Lake County Workforce Development has received 26 WARN Notices impacting 2,048 employees across all industry sectors. Virtual events were conducted with employers, and impacted workers were emailed information about Unemployment Insurance benefits, support services and employment and training programs. All impacted workers are referred to the new Lake County Job Center website for the most up-to-date information on jobs and careers. 

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our daily lives and led to new financial challenges for families and businesses throughout our community. Lake County Workforce Development is working every day to develop new, innovative ways to serve our customers remotely while applying for additional federal and state resources for our area so that we can continue to support essential workers, help the unemployed/underemployed, and assist small businesses.

Illinois workNet COVID-19 Resources
IWIB Gets New Logo
The mantra for the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board (IWIB) has long been "business-led," and the themes of marketing and branding are unquestionably crucial to commercial processes. Members of the IWIB leadership team began in the pre-pandemic spring of 2020 to discuss the need for a logo that symbolizes the principles for which IWIB stands, and one that would stand out among what can sometimes be a confusing cluster of logos representing the various agencies and entities that comprise the workforce system. When IWIB newsletter editor Mike Conley and the team at the Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support (ICSPS) began developing the newsletter about the same time, Conley constructed a crude, stacked letter logo to serve as an 'anchor' on the newsletter banner each month. While that simple design served its purpose for a few months, it became apparent that a more professional, polished version was needed to present IWIB's purpose and promise. Graphic arts professionals at ICSPS were enlisted to create a series of designs for the leadership team's consideration. Those choices were eventually winnowed down to four options, the winner of which now graces the header of this newsletter and will be used in the future on IWIB letterhead and other printed and web materials.
The logo is intended to embody the partnerships that are at the foundation of Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act work, and specifically the team-oriented approach embraced by IWIB and its business members.
"Why I IWIB"
Executive Committee Spotlight
Tom Hacker’s passionate belief in the importance of vocational careers is rooted in the success of his own journey, which began more than four decades ago. Tom’s first and predominant love was music. While a college education was always part of the plan, Tom had enjoyed some local success with his music, and began touring with group immediately after graduating high school. College could wait.

After getting life on the road out of his system, Tom returned home, got married and started a family. Working, going to school, and raising a family proved to be a plate too full, and Tom took a position on a shop floor in a metal manufacturing company to help make ends meet. College again fell to the wayside, and his journey in the manufacturing industry began. “I really didn’t set out to map a career in manufacturing, but the industry had plans for me that I didn’t know existed,” said Tom “I didn’t find this life. It found me.” 

Today, Tom is president of C&L Supreme, a 63-year old contract manufacturer of CNC precision-machined components and assemblies supporting a wide range of industries. With decades of experience in manufacturing, and an understanding of the unique career pathways that are available in the sector, he felt the pull to give back to the industry, to use the skills and knowledge he had acquired over the years to help others develop fulfilling careers in the same career.

In 2005, Tom became involved with the training and education efforts of the Schaumberg-based Technology and Manufacturing Association (TMA). He helped to form TMA’s Manufacturing Education Careers Committee (MECC) in 2012, and chaired it from the beginning until March of this year, when he was sworn in as Chairman of the TMA’s Board of Directors.

The organization is 95 years old, with more than 700 small and mid-sized manufacturer members employing some 30,000 team members. TMA headquarters houses an industry-designed and -led training facility that includes both classrooms and a laboratory filled with machine tools in support of its many accredited training courses and DOL-approved apprenticeship tracks.
“After nearly five years on the Board, there is still a lot I don’t know about the State and Federal Workforce Systems.” Tom said. “What I do know is that there are countless women and men working for the system who are passionate about their work and desire to provide job seekers with the necessary support and education to secure meaningful careers in one of the many employment sectors that thrive in our State. To the extent that I can help break through system silos and help deliver the right training and better connect job seekers with employers looking for specific and ever-changing skills, then I have had some positive impact. System integration and collaboration with industry are keys to making the workforce effort successful for both the State and its residents.”

Collaboration is a theme for Tom’s professional activities. In addition to the IWIB and TMA Boards, he serves on the Board of Global Midwest Alliance, a business-led economic development organization that advises the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Seventh District Industrial Roundtable and Advisory Council on Agriculture, Small Business and Labor.
Oh, and that music career? Having gone from long hair to no hair, Tom is still an active musician. He and his wife Kathie, also a musician, are active in the music ministry of their church as members of a contemporary Christian music group. Kathie and Tom are blessed with five children and nine grandchildren and share the love of family, friends, music, classic cars and travel. 
Annual IWP Awards
Illinois Workforce Partnership
IWIB members who have attended the Illinois Workforce Partnership (IWP) awards luncheon in the past know how moving an experience it can be. Here we see the fruits of what we’re all working toward, the magical confluence of public support and the private assumption of responsibility and accountability. Each year, IWP honors excellence among individual job seekers and businesses in each of the state’s local workforce areas, and shares innovative approaches and solutions to common problems.The awards are typically awarded each fall in Springfield, bringing together partners in the workforce system with businesses and individuals to share in one another’s achievements. Like so many in-person gatherings, this year’s event was shifted to a virtual presentation, a video of which was shared at the recent September meeting of the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board.

Michelle Cerutti is this year’s IWP president. She explained the make-up and purpose of the IWP in a recent interview. IWP is a non-profit organization consisting of 46 workforce professionals representing 10 Economic Development Regions and the 22 local workforce boards in Illinois. “We advocate for the creation of a skilled workforce for our state’s continued competitiveness and growth,” Michelle said. “IWP members are representatives from local workforce boards that oversee programs and services which connect businesses and individuals to resources within our public workforce system.” Many members are also involved in national workforce organizations. 

IWP involves itself in advocacy, training, and data sharing, among other functions.
The IWP awards luncheon began seven years ago as a small event with about 50 attendees. By last year, around 200 people attended the banquet, where the best examples of job-seeking success and employer partnership are highlighted. The luncheon has traditionally been in September to promote Workforce Development month. While IWP is proud to have been able to carry on their tradition virtually this year, “We hope to host future award luncheons or dinners after COVID is over!,” Cerutti said.

Cerutti stressed that local workforce boards are business-driven in developing local plans and strategies to meet the workforce needs of both employers and job seekers in the regions they serve. Job seekers honored by the IWP typically overcome a number of obstacles through determination and personal accountability. For example, one of this year’s winners, ‘Charles’, was referred by the Illinois Department of Corrections to McHenry County Workforce, where he began the state line SHRM STEP Forward workshop for job seekers with criminal backgrounds. Soon he had the opportunity to begin an Enhanced Work Experience funded by Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) dollars and completed 16 weeks of training and on-the-job experience. At the end of the training, he was offered a full-time position at Vo-Tech in an on-the-job training program. Charles is now a mentor to three new interns who are products of a pre-apprenticeship program in Computer Numerical Control (CNC). “I am truly grateful to be working at Vo-Tech,” he said. “I am making as much per hour now as I made in a week when I was incarcerated.”

There are dozens of similar stories across the state, where the purpose and quality of the work we all do is actualized through the willingness of businesses to give WIOA-eligible job seekers a chance, and the determination and will of individuals in demonstrating superior achievement even in the face of significant barriers.

We are all united in the purpose of changing individual lives, supporting the needs of businesses, and promoting our shared goal of economic development in our state. The annual IWP Awards reinforce that we have agency in reaching those objectives.
Success Story
Jeff Succeeds Through COVID-19
When Jeff came into the office he was 41 years old. He was a married with 1 child. He was employed at Memorial Medical Center as a Patient Care Tech making $11.91 per hour. He had been going to school for Health Information Management, but knew this was not the path he wanted to take. He decided he wanted to go into the Respiratory Therapy program at LLCC. He excelled in his program. He never could have imagined that his last semester of school a pandemic would hit the world. He had to adapt to a new way of learning in school and living life in general. He was able to successfully complete the Respiratory Therapy program at LLCC in May of 2020. He was able to pass both of his state exams to become a licensed Respiratory Therapist. He was able to become employed as a Respiratory Therapist at Memorial Medical Center making $21.50 per hour all during the pandemic. He was thankful for all the help that the WIOA Program was able to give him to complete his career goals.
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Our mission: To celebrate the accomplishments of the workforce system and its clients, both employers and job-seekers.

Our vision: To share ideas, best practices, and to fully actualize the federal and state workforce resources in order to promote economic development and transition targeted populations into meaningful careers.

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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