The Central Illinois Workforce Board recently released the Talent Force 21: 2007 State of the Workforce Report. The report represents the key issues emerging from an analysis of the workforce in the Peoria Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), focusing on the quality and quantity of the workforce, quality of life and the 21st century workforce. Extensive data was gathered through employer surveys, regional community groups, the census, and national, state and local databases. The report offers some analysis of challenges, regional strengths and opportunities, as well as avenues to pursue for continued advancement and increased economic progress. The following is a regional snapshot of the State of the Workforce Report:
• Utilizing research from the Editorial Projects in the Education Research Center shows that about 855 freshmen (out of approximately 4,500) in the Peoria MSA do not graduate in four years.
• Data from the University of Michigan indicated that high-risk students are eight to ten times less likely to drop out in the 11th and 12th grades if they enroll in Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses. High schools in the Peoria MSA experienced a 20 percent increase in 2006-07 in student enrollments in CTE courses, compared to the previous year.
• An uneducated workforce can be draining on an economy. High school dropouts make about $10,000 less per year than high school graduates. If 100 percent of the youth in 2006 graduated from U.S. high schools (instead of the 68 to 70 percent who did graduate), the nation’s economy would have benefited from an additional $309 billion in income throughout their lifetimes. This translates into increased wages for the graduates as well as increased purchasing power, higher tax receipts and higher worker productivity.
• The impact of education on crime is quite staggering. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, of black males who graduated from high school and went on to attend college, only five percent were incarcerated in 2000. Of white males who graduated from high school and went on to attend college, only one percent were incarcerated in 2000.
• Occupational demand forecasts are important in identifying both growing and declining occupations in a region. According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, long-term employment growth projections (2004-2014) for central Illinois indicate that health care employment will grow by 23.1 percent, professional opportunities by 17.8 percent, services by 16.7 percent, construction and repair by 11.3 percent, and transportation by 10.6 percent.
• Over the past five years, the Rapid Response Team from Workforce Network has provided career transition services to 2,999 individuals who have been laid off from 33 different organizations due to employers downsizing, closing and/or moving offshore.
The State of the Workforce Report indicates that the future for central Illinois is very promising, yet we are facing many challenges which must be addressed today to ensure we have the talent pool to support and maintain the high-skilled jobs that are critical to sustaining a vibrant economy. Quality education is the most valuable asset for present and future generations. Talent is what will drive prosperity in the 21st century.