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A Publication of WTVP

The Talent Force 21: 2006 State of the Workforce Report represents the key issues emerging from an analysis of the central Illinois (Marshall, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford counties) workforce. The report focuses on the quality of the workforce, the quantity of the workforce, quality of life, and 21st century workforce. Extensive data has been gathered through employer surveys, regional community groups, the census, and national, state, and local databases. The report is descriptive and attempts to present a clear picture of the current status of the issues that are central to understanding important workforce and workplace issues. It offers some analysis of challenges, regional strengths, and opportunities, as well as avenues to pursue for continued advancement and increased economic progress. In addition, this report serves as an invitation to community leaders, employers, educators, service providers, and others to engage in dialogue about the future of the region. The following is a sample of information gleaned from the report.

Math and science and the technological innovation they support are critical to this region’s competitiveness. In 2005, 75 percent of the students taking the placement tests required by Illinois Central College tested as needing remedial math courses. However, the good news is that students in central Illinois are improving in science and reading. When comparing central Illinois high school students’ Prairie State Achievement Exams (required for all 11th graders in the state) over a five-year period, the percentage of students in 2004–05 meeting or exceeding standards in science (56 percent) has seen a steady improvement from the 50.3 percent of 2000–01. Central Illinois’ students also made gains in the 2004–05 academic year in meeting and exceeding standards in reading (62.9 percent), compared to 60.9 percent in 2000–01.

Every seven seconds one American turns 60 this year. The fear of talent shortages due to the aging workforce and the impact of “brain drain” from organizations have companies focusing on finding, developing, and retaining talent. What makes the recruitment and retention of workers in central Illinois more critical is the fact that according to public school projections, the Peoria MSA will see a decrease in student population in three of the region’s five counties (Marshall, Stark, and Tazewell) by 2013. There will be fewer potential workers available with ties to the community.

The report ends with a challenge for the community to create the future. Due to economic reforms transforming other countries’ economies, making them dramatically more competitive, the report concludes that effective learning is the only sustainable competitive advantage. The central Illinois region can’t ignore opportunities to improve the quality of education. A highly skilled workforce is the lifeblood of any successful economy. Nor can we lose opportunities to attract and retain talent. Enhancing our stance as a leader in innovation and continuing to develop the capacity to create new scientific and technological breakthroughs is critical to the nation’s and our local economic competitiveness.

The 2006 State of the Workforce Report will be available at the 2006 Workforce Forum on October 11 at the Peoria Civic Center. To learn more about the 2006 Workforce Forum or to register, please visit www.WorkforceNetwork.com. IBI

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