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January 28, 2000

Governor Names Linda Renee Baker Secretary Of Human Services, Announces Illinois Workforce Advantage Program

CHICAGO - Governor George H. Ryan today named Linda ReneƩ Baker as the new Secretary of the state Department of Human Services and announced new initiatives to create the Illinois Workforce Advantage Program bringing education and workforce training programs to local communities.

The Governor was touring the Mid-South Illinois Employment and Training Center (IETC), one of 56 full-service one-stop career centers in the state, with First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan, Lt. Governor Corinne Wood and Director Baker. In addition to being given an overview of the facility, Ryan talked with staff regarding how workforce development services could be replicated or strengthened in other areas in the state. He also talked with the clients who are earning GEDs, learning job skills and receiving employment services at the IETC.

"Mothers, fathers and other individuals who want to improve their lives and become better able to provide for themselves and their families can access a broad range of services at these centers, depending upon the local partnerships involved," Ryan said. "As we strengthen the existing partnerships and increase the presence of additional agencies that help people learn, earn and prosper in these community facilities, we can achieve a true Illinois Workforce Advantage ."

As the new Secretary of the Department of Human Services, Baker will become the second person to head the super agency that was created in the early 1990s. As Director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security during the past year, Baker has been instrumental in working collaboratively with the business community, organized labor, education, local governments, and community based organizations to revamp the state's workforce development system. In addition to helping open four new IETCs during 1999, Baker worked tirelessly to promote the Governor's vision of an inclusive public-private partnership for workforce development to bring together those in the state who need employees with those who prepare individuals for employment.

The strong Illinois economy has created an environment where those traditionally among the last to be hired have a genuine opportunity to enter the ranks of the state's workforce. "Linda has established an excellent reputation in the area of workforce development as Director of the Department of Employment Security," Ryan said.

"She also understands the human service issues that impact an individual's ability to be gainfully employed from leading the Illinois Department of Public Aid in the mid-1990s and her years working health and human services issues in the Illinois General Assembly. This combination of experience uniquely qualifies her to help ensure that both the needs of employers and those of the diverse clients of the Department of Human Services are met through the one-stop career centers like the one we are visiting today," he said.

Full-service one-stop centers such as the one at Mid-South in Chicago provide:

  • job development and placement
  • job search skills workshops
  • testing and career counseling
  • on-going case management
  • supportive services
  • on-site recruitment of prospective employees

"While the one-stop concept is federally-mandated by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, I am committed to making our one-stop delivery system the best in the nation," Ryan said. "I want the Illinois Employment and Training Centers to be store fronts to self-sufficiency."

Last year in his first State of the State address, the Governor charged the Commission on the Status of Women with working on projects to help Illinois women to achieve better lives for themselves and their families. Among the Commission's first set of recommendations back to Governor Ryan was to enhance the services available at IETCs by adding day care and GED preparation. The Mid-South IETC has been selected to pilot these enhancements, in part, because of the strong community partnership that already exists among the:

  • Illinois Department of Employment Security
  • The Mayor's Office of Workforce Development
  • Employment and Employer Services
  • Dawson Skill Center, a division of Kennedy King College of the City Colleges
  • Grand Boulevard Federation

There is a close relationship with the community represented on site by the presence and advocacy of the Grand Boulevard Federation. "The Grand Boulevard representative in the One-Stop brings the input and concerns of the community to the appropriate partner agencies," Ryan said.

The Governor noted the presence of staff from UPS who were conducting job interviews at the Center during his visit. "It is clear that this IETC not only meets the needs of the community residents, but also is viewed by the business community as a partner in its efforts to obtain the skilled workforce it needs to be competitive. The IETCs will only be advantageous to the people who are seeking employment assistance if they can connect those individuals with employers who are hiring workers for jobs with good pay and a promising future," said Ryan.

The Governor also commended the graduating class of nine students who successfully completed the Quantum Job Readiness Training and Placement Program. This program, offered by Employment and Employer Services, helps south side residents between the ages of 16 and 24 obtain and retain jobs through motivational esteem building, resume development and follow-up assistance.


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