Rock Valley College

Northern Illinois Coordinated Workforce Report Released to Investors, Community

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019

Media Contact: Dave Costello, 815-921-4516

Rock Valley College Outlines Critical Core Manufacturing Skills Curriculum Details, Invites Regional Employers to Dec. 4 Informational Session

The Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC), The Workforce Connection, Rock Valley College (RVC) and Region1 Planning Council today distributed the entire Coordinated Workforce Report, a regional analysis of data and employer surveys regarding employment, unemployment, education, job postings, hiring trends, barriers to growth and the skills most in demand. The report has served as a guide for workforce development initiatives already in progress.

Key findings from the report include:

  • The capabilities in highest demand by local businesses are the associate degree or certification-level skills, referred to as “middle skills.” Approximately 55% of all jobs and 32% of manufacturing job openings in our region require middle skills.
  • The middle skills needed for each manufacturing sector vary. There is not a standard manufacturing skill set.
  • Because middle skills are no longer being taught in area K-12 curriculums, there is a lack of prerequisite skills that serve as the foundation for advanced manufacturing training.

The report also underscores the urgency in addressing the middle skills workforce demand from current and potential employers. Regional employers consistently rank the lack of middle-skilled talent as their single biggest obstacle to growth. Closing the skills gap will require collaboration and community action from both public and private sector partners.

“The report has helped to focus and accelerate efforts to strengthen our workforce’s manufacturing capabilities,” said Nathan Bryant, President & CEO of RAEDC. “We believe that sharing this report with our investors and community will allow us to build on the momentum and bring the Advanced Training Center and other initiatives to fruition. Now is the time to ensure our region has the ability to retain and grow current employers by providing them with the skilled employees they need and want.”

Members of the Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Committee, including RAEDC, RVC, The Workforce Connection, and R1 Planning, and others are encouraging other local businesses and community leaders to join in advocating for continued progress.

To address the challenges outlined, the report recommended that the region develop a Critical Core Manufacturing Skills (CCMS) Curriculum to provide the prerequisite hard and soft skills needed by employers for success in manufacturing industries.

In response, RVC today outlined its CCMS programming to assist regional businesses with attracting and retaining employees and ensuring long-term stability and growth of their own organizations. The curriculum includes flexible, stackable and scalable course offerings developed with firsthand input from local manufacturers and higher education partners.

The CCMS program provides:

  • Advanced manufacturing class programs in 16-credit hour blocks.
  • Programs that can be “stacked” in multiple combinations based on the individual’s career goals or industry-specific demands.
  • Multiple pathways that lead to certification(s), an associate of applied science and bachelor’s degree programs.
  • Opportunities for students to “learn while they earn,” putting enhanced skills to work right away for an immediate benefit to both the employee and employer.

Additionally, RVC created the Business and Leadership Team (BILT) to guide employer outreach to continually identify, with regional businesses, specific skill sets demanded within the industry.

On Dec. 4 from 4-5 p.m., manufacturers are invited to a free informational session to learn more about the CCMS curriculum and how it can be utilized and customized for employers to enhance employee training. The session will be hosted at the NIU Rockford campus, 8500 E. State St., and will include a 30-minute overview followed by Q&A so that employers can gain a strong understanding of the opportunity.

“The report allowed us to articulate how critical a skilled workforce is to our community, and how valuable the programs we’re building through partnerships will be,” said Dr. Doug Jensen, President of RVC. “Continued collaboration and advocacy is needed to develop a workforce pipeline that serves as an economic differentiator for our region and provides access to high-paying, quality jobs for residents.”

The CCMS curriculum offered at RVC has multiply modes of delivery, including credit and non-credit course offerings, incumbent worker programming for those individuals who already work at local manufacturing firms, new hire offerings to train individuals on site, and in-house training programs to meet specific employer needs.

“This CCMS curriculum will provide an additional opportunity for manufacturers to enhance on-the-job training,” said Dr. Lisa Bly, Board Executive Director, The Workforce Connection. “We are proud to support this exceptional effort within the region.”



The role of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) is to collaborate with regional stakeholders to cultivate opportunities for primary job growth that increase the economic well-being of our region. The RAEDC markets the region to attract new capital investment, while assisting existing business with resources for sustainable growth. The RAEDC works closely with many partners to improve the competitiveness of the region by taking what it learns from the region's employers and engaging the community in the daily work of economic development. As the economic development organization for the region, the RAEDC also serves as the area's data collection agency on all new capital investment, retained and created quality jobs, and renovated commercial/industrial space.