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Study: Illinois Lacks Qualified Workforce

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Illinois has more jobs than qualified workers, a group of business leaders say.

To bridge that gap, Sean Noble of ReadyNation says Illinois needs to improve its education system, primarily by expanding early childhood education.

"Current education and labor market trends indicate the Illinois workforce faces an increasingly serious skills gap," Noble said. "That's the gap between two important numbers: job postings and the workers who are skilled enough to fill those positions."

A study released by the business group says about 150,000 jobs will lack qualified workers this decade. That means Illinois businesses have to fill jobs with unqualified workers or bring people in from outside the state.

Kayla Edwards works for Express Employment Professionals, an employment agency in central Illinois. She says she has a hard time finding matching workers with the available jobs.

"It's frustrating when someone really wants to work, but isn't qualified to take a promising job opening," Edwards said. "It's equally frustrating for employers who can't find well skilled workers to fill jobs and often have to settle for hiring less qualified employees."

Edwards says some workers don't have basic math and reading skills.

ReadyNation supports the governor's proposed increase to early childhood education, which it says helps build skills at an early age. It is against his proposal to decrease the budget for state-funded childcare services. The group says high-quality childcare makes for a better workforce.

Lisa Ryan is a graduate student in the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She previously worked at Indiana Public Radio and the college radio station founded by David Letterman. She is a 2014 broadcast journalism and political science graduate of Ball State University.
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