Whatever happened to shop class in Illinois? One business owner is asking that question as he looks to fill openings at his central Illinois print shop.

Tom Mercer, CEO at Bloomington offset printing in Bloomington-Normal, said he is having trouble finding workers to fill job openings.

Mercer said he needs folks with basic math and mechanical skills — skills Mercer said shop classes used to teach.

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"I think the high schools could do a lot," Mercer said. "I get kids out of high school; and if you put them on a machine with someone who's been here 20 or 25 years, they pick it up pretty quick if they're mechanically inclined."

Mercer said he does need more math skills from younger workers. He said fractions and basic spacial awareness is key in his line of work.

Lisa Gregory, spokeswoman at Richland Community College, said community colleges across the state are doing the job high school vocational classes used to do.

"By our mission, community colleges work with businesses and industries to create unique or specific training classes to fit our business and industry needs," Gregory added.

Gregory said, however, that community colleges as a whole need to make sure employers across the state know about their programs.


(Copyright WBGZ / www.AltonDailyNews.com)