The healthcare sector is now the largest employment cluster in Greater Peoria, with more than 700 establishments employing over 29,000 professionals in the region. This cluster makes up about 17 percent of our employment… and continues to grow.
That’s great news when it comes to economic development and job creation, but it also presents an enormous challenge for our regional healthcare providers. Where are they going to find the talented professionals to support their current and future workforce needs?
To support this significant regional sector, the Greater Peoria EDC is working with local partners to inspire students to pursue healthcare careers. The success of these initiatives will play a critical role in the development of a talent pipeline to support the future healthcare workforce needs in Greater Peoria.
A central component of inspiring students to pursue a healthcare career is sharing information about those opportunities with them, their parents and educators. This information needs to reach them by middle school—a time when students are developing career aspirations. We recently launched Make Yourself, an online career exploration resource, for just that purpose. The website, makeyourselfgp.org, highlights healthcare careers and provides a direct connection to STEM programs, healthcare internships and job shadow experiences, as well as other regional resources that support students interested in one of the many healthcare career pathways.
Peoria Pathways to Prosperity, a team housed within the Greater Peoria EDC, is working hand-in-hand with District 150 educators and administrators to develop a healthcare curriculum for their high school students. They hope to begin offering this pathway, along with several others, to students beginning in the fall of 2017.
Each spring, our friends at Illinois Central College and the Education for Employment offices host a healthcare expo at Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center, offering a compelling, hands-on healthcare experience for high school students. The Greater Peoria EDC hopes to add a similar experience for middle schoolers this fall.
We are also working on the development of a healthcare apprenticeship program, offering an affordable way for students to develop healthcare certifications and degrees while simultaneously working for local healthcare providers. Our goal is to launch the first pilot by the fall of 2017.
These programs will provide critical support to regional partners who recently announced significant investments in Greater Peoria’s healthcare education and training opportunities. The expansion of Methodist College and the future addition of first-year students at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria will grow and strengthen the critical foundation necessary for inspired teens to become a part of a world-class healthcare talent pipeline… right here in Greater Peoria! iBi