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October 26, 2000

Ryan Hosts First Annual Governor's Workforce Conference

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today convened the state's first annual Governor's Workforce Conference, bringing together state and local agencies and members of the business community to take stock of Illinois' progress in revamping its statewide workforce development system, and to consider ways to make newly mandated changes benefit workers and employers throughout the state.

"Streamlining and improving our workforce development system is truly a collaborative effort, and therefore, it is important that we bring everyone together to discuss what needs to be done," Ryan said.

"The goal of Illinois' workforce development system is to increase employment, job retention and workers' earnings, through better preparation of the state's workforce, to meet the demands of businesses for skilled workers," he added. "By doing so, we will sustain economic growth, enhance productivity and competitiveness and reduce welfare dependency."

The conference, entitled "New Partners/New Opportunities," will feature nationally recognized trainers, a wide variety of workshops dealing with topical workforce issues, a model employment and training center resource room and many other exhibits. Nearly 1,000 participants were expected to attend the two-day conference in Springfield. One of the highlights of the event is a recognition program honoring local business leaders, workforce development professionals and private citizens for their contributions to Illinois' workforce and to their local economies.

"Many individuals, working with Illinois' new local workforce investment boards, have played a significant role in helping to reshape the way we provide education, training and employment services to the public, and I congratulate each of them for all they have accomplished," Ryan said. "

"The rebuilding of Illinois' workforce development system, to ensure that our workforce is equipped with the knowledge and training to meet employers' needs and to fulfill their own career goals, remains a top priority of my administration."

The federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998, designed to revamp the nation's workforce delivery system, became effective in Illinois and other states on July 1. Among the requirements under the Act is one mandating states to establish local workforce investment boards, each chaired by a local business leader and including representatives from labor, education, community-based organizations and state and local workforce agencies. Illinois has 26 local boards established or in development, which must make certain that state workforce services continually meet the local needs of their area.

"During my campaign for Governor, I pledged to reinvigorate the state's workforce development programs and we are moving forward toward that goal," Ryan said. "The 'Illinois Workforce Advantage,' integrating human service programs and workforce preparation activities under one roof through new Family Resource Centers, was the latest step. In addition, most workforce development services now have been consolidated through the Illinois Employment and Training Center Network, providing the public with convenient 'one-stop' service in 56 locations across the state. The one-stop centers and the Illinois Workforce Advantage are the primary resources in each community where Illinois employers and job seekers turn to get workforce services," Ryan said.

The conference's recognition program will honor businesses and individuals who found innovative ways to foster the state's new local workforce investment boards, and those who used the resources of the state's workforce system, such as employment and training programs, to further their businesses or individual careers.

Specific awards will include one honoring a company or its representative for leadership in establishing a local workforce development system. Another private sector award will recognize a business for its commitment to the goal of workforce preparation, through its use of state workforce services to address specific employee skill deficiencies, skill shortages within their local labor market area, or employee retention and advancement issues.

Individual citizens, who overcame significant obstacles in achieving personal career goals through the acquisition of knowledge and skills, also will be honored, as well as workforce professionals who will be recognized for creative collaborations in addressing local workforce needs, and for innovative programs, projects and initiatives. For complete list of award winners with descriptions of their accomplishments contact the Illinois Department of Employment Security at 312/793-9268.


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