Letter: Manufacturing matters to Illinois workers

Published: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

To the Editor:

Friday is National Manufacturing Day. On that day and throughout October, the state of Illinois will recognize the significance of manufacturing to the global economy and to the careers of thousands of Illinois residents. In DeKalb County, it is an opportunity to celebrate our deep manufacturing roots and highlight our manufacturers, large and small.

In DeKalb County and around the nation, process and product innovations are fundamentally changing manufacturing as well as necessary workforce skills. In addition, freer markets worldwide have rapidly engaged 7 billion people in intense competition for jobs and consumers.

Our manufacturing leaders are up to the challenge. They understand that our workforce is the foundation for building and sustaining strength in industrial occupations.

In DeKalb County, the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation has championed an Industrial Workforce Development Pilot Project in partnership with the Greater Rochelle Economic Development Corporation, Kishwaukee College, Northern Illinois University, the Kishwaukee Education Consortium, local school districts, and industrial firms such as Ideal Industries.

The aim of this initiative is to identify the many and varied skill sets that typify today’s industrial career paths for young women and men, and to demonstrate how our high school, community college and university curricula can complement such career options through internships, job-shadowing and mentoring.

The joint commitment of Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College to workforce development and business partnerships has brought federal resources to bear on a variety of manufacturing challenges.

For example, at NIU the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, the College of Business, and the Division of Research and Graduate Studies have garnered support from the National Institute of Standards of Technology, the Economic Development Agency, the Small Business Administration, and the Employment and Training Administration on behalf of local jobs and innovations.

Kishwaukee College is a partner in the Illinois Network for Advanced Manufacturing (INAM), a consortium of 21 Illinois community colleges.

A Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) grant from the Department of Labor on behalf of the consortium was recently awarded and provides funding to expand capacity in several areas, including credit for prior learning, national career readiness, advanced manufacturing specialties and articulation to four-year schools.

NIU and Kishwaukee College encourage you to take time to recognize the manufacturers in our local communities. Be proud of “Made in Illinois!”

Dr. Douglas D. Baker

President, Northern Illinois University

Dr. Tom Choice

Kishwaukee College

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