Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by President and CEO of GE Transportation Russell Stokes, President and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association Greg Baise, President of Harper College Dr. Kenneth Ender and actor Gary Sinise to announce a first-of-its-kind partnership between the state of Illinois, manufacturers and community colleges to train veterans for in-demand careers. The Get Skills to Work coalition, a collaborative program from GE, is a new statewide veterans' skills partnership between Illinois, the Illinois Manufacturers' Association and participating community colleges that will locate employers who want to hire returning veterans and provide the training necessary for those jobs. Today's announcement is part of Governor Quinn's commitment to honor, protect and support the men and women who have served our nation.
"I am thrilled that Illinois is the first state in the nation to join the Get Skills to Work coalition," Governor Quinn said. "This program will help our state's returning servicemembers get the skills they need to get back into the workforce. This statewide partnership includes our community colleges and the Illinois Manufacturers' Association to ensure nobody is left out when it comes to employing our hometown heroes."
"Advanced manufacturing plays an undeniably important role in the U.S. economy, and we need to ensure that today's workforce can meet tomorrow's demands in order to maintain America's competitive edge in the industry," President and CEO of GE Transportation Russell Stokes said. "Veterans embody the characteristics that make great employees -- they're results-oriented and have integrity and leadership experience -- exactly the kind of attributes that equip workers for careers in advanced manufacturing. Through Get Skills to Work, we built a coalition to close the skills gap and support veterans as they transition into those civilian career opportunities. Today's statewide partnership with Illinois marks a major milestone on the program's one year anniversary and further highlights our combined efforts to support veterans as they transition into jobs that will help drive U.S. capacity and competitiveness."
Illinois is the first state in the nation to join GE's Get Skills to Work coalition as a partner. The coalition brings together industry, education, and the Illinois Departments of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) and Employment Security (IDES) to support the transition of veterans to jobs in advanced manufacturing. The coalition is focused on providing certification and training in advanced manufacturing to returning veterans, in partnership with local community colleges and employers who will commit to hiring them. The goal is to bring together existing training efforts and spark new action in order to make a significant impact.
The IDVA and IDES have several other veterans training and hiring initiatives underway. Their Military 2 Manufacturing Fairs link veterans to potential employers. The Illinois Hires Heroes Consortium identifies and empowers employers who recognize the great value veterans bring to the workplace.
"Our returning veterans can offer great skills and capabilities to employers across Illinois," Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Erica Borggren said. "Thanks to Governor Quinn's leadership, the example set by GE and others, and the work of groups such as the Gary Sinise Foundation, our men and women in uniform will be coming home to increased opportunities to do just that."
National studies show that most returning veterans are not confident about finding jobs and that young veterans, particularly women, may have difficulty finding employment after their active duty service has ended.
Governor Quinn has made our veterans, servicemembers and their families one of his top priorities throughout his career in public service. He has led programs including the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program and the Veterans Cash lottery ticket, which has awarded more than $10 million to not-for-profit organizations across the state that provide health care and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, housing assistance, disability benefits and other services to Illinois Veterans. He also championed numerous veterans' causes during his service as Lieutenant Governor and Illinois Treasurer. In 2011, Governor Quinn launched the Welcome Home Heroes program to support Illinois servicemembers seeking homeownership. In 2012, the Governor proposed in his State of the State address and signed into law the Hiring Veterans Tax Credit. The law provides a significant additional tax credit to businesses who hire unemployed veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, to both help businesses create jobs and give those jobs to the people who have sacrificed so much for our state and our country.
For more information on the Get Skills to Work coalition, visit getskillstowork.org.