Illinois’ workforce isn’t ready for the high-skilled jobs of the future, according to research from a business leadership network.


A report from the national group ReadyNation said Illinois’ workforce is falling short for jobs related to science, technology, engineering and math, which are expected to be big areas of growth for Illinois in the future..


Jo Ellen Randall, a group member and vice president of human resources at Blessed Health Systems in Quincy, said Illinois expects to add 37,000 jobs in science, technology, engineering and math by 2020.


“But our Illinois workforce doesn’t yet appear fully prepared to match these needs and take advantage of these projected job opportunities,.” she said.


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“They either have to pay to recruit skilled workers from out of state or train their in-state hires to the desired levels of qualifications.”


ReadyNation member Tom Fitch is vice president of Harold O’Shea Builders in Springfield. To prepare Illinois’ workforce, Fitch said the state must increase funding for early childhood education. “After seven years of deep cuts and neglect, we were pleased to see that early education received a modest but important funding boost this year.”


Fitch praised Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan to increase pre-kindergarten funding in the coming fiscal year.


Sean Noble, the Illinois state director for ReadyNation, said the planned additional $75 million for early education won’t just restore what has been lost over the years. “It’s also about trying to ensure that the important federal preschool development grant that we’ve been able to start tapping in this last year can continue to flow to Illinois.”


Noble said the $20 million a year for four years from the federal government will provide more and higher quality services for low-income children.


ReadyNation has 1,400 members nationwide with 130 members in Illinois.


(Copyright WBGZ /