FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
3/24/2011

Marcelyn Love 217/558.1542
Mike Claffey 312/814.3957
Alka Nayyar 312/814.0097

 Illinois Economic Development Director Calls on Congress to Preserve Funding for State Workforce Programs

Thousands of Illinoisans Impacted by Proposed Cuts to Federal WIA Funding

SPRINGFIELD � Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Warren Ribley today joined members of the Illinois Workforce Investment Board (IWIB), on national Workforce Day of Action, to highlight the impact of proposed federal budget cuts on the state�s workforce programs. Workforce Day of Action is a national event in support of adequate funding for workforce education and training programs.
 
�The funding the state receives through the federal Workforce Investment Act has never been more critical, as we continue our efforts to bring new business sectors into the state and get more people working. But, if we don't have the capacity to train our workers to meet the demand, those markets will quickly move elsewhere. Illinois is continuing to show strong signs of recovery and now is not the time to defund programs that are getting people back to work,� Dir. Ribley stated.
 
Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill that would eliminate current funding for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the primary federal program that give workers the skills they need to succeed in the workforce. The bill targeted other vital training programs for deep cuts or elimination in the upcoming budget year, including a 50 percent reduction in innovation funding that states use to implement regional employment and training initiatives. These cuts would prevent tens of thousands of Illinois residents from receiving the vital employment and training services they need to get a job, and would eventually result in the state�s Illinois workNet Centers closing their doors. DCEO administers the federal Workforce Investment Act on behalf of the state, which provides job training and workforce services for adults, youth and dislocated workers.
 
During its quarterly meeting at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield earlier in the day, IWIB endorsed a resolution supporting the restoration of WIA funding.
 
�Illinois has long recognized the value of workforce development to the state�s larger economic development goals. I have seen first-hand how these funds work to increase the skills of the Illinois workforce and keep Illinois more globally competitive, and that is why it is imperative that Congress votes to keep WIA intact,� said John Rico, co-chair, IWIB.
 
There are 26 local workforce development boards and 113 Illinois workNet career and training centers in Illinois that rely on WIA funding to provide their services. For Program Year 2010, Illinois received more than $138 million through WIA. During Program Year 2009, WIA served more than 173,000 workers, a 25 percent increase from the previous year. Approximately 177,000 job seekers utilized the Illinois workNet online portal to access services. According to the National Skills Coalition, over 8.4 million Americas were served under WIA this past year and WIA participation rates increased 234 percent over the past two years despite funding remaining stagnant at 2008 levels.
 
For more information on the state�s workforce programs, visit http://www.illinoisworknet.com.