Elgin Community College hosted its first Regional Workforce Development Forum on Thursday, March 8 with more than 50 economic development, workforce development, and education professionals from surrounding counties in attendance.
The forum resulted from ECC Workforce Development Council and Strategic Partnership discussion. In identifying regional resource gaps, it became apparent that all entities would benefit from closer collaboration between stakeholders in the region, and the council sought to create an opportunity for professionals in unrelated, yet complementary roles to identify their common goals.
“A skilled, adaptable workforce is the primary determinant of our region’s economic success,” said Kathy Meisinger, ECC director of Strategic Partnerships and member of the Workforce Development Council who planned and oversaw the forum. “The current and future workforce, including students at all educational levels, continued employer growth and our communities as a whole will benefit by us working closely together, sharing resources and creating new initiatives as well as increasing support for existing initiatives. Workforce development, economic development, and education leaders each share part of the responsibility, along with area employers.”
The event began with a keynote presentation from Tom Mihelic of Manpower, who has over 27 years of industry experience in staffing and workforce consulting. During his address, Mihelic spoke of the nationwide workforce and regional hiring trends, which established the data foundation for the small group discussions that followed. The table discussions focused on solutions and strategic next steps to improve the region’s workforce through better-aligned resources and identification of nationwide best practices.
Hosting and facilitating the event with continued regional partner involvement is an important initiative for ECC as it directly aligns to the college’s long-term strategic goals, specifically to strengthen educational and workforce partnerships to create a more responsive and sustainable community.
“ECC values its integral role in developing, advancing, and serving the local community, and we strive to create high-quality learning opportunities that respond to the needs of district residents and businesses,” said Meisinger.
This year’s forum was held with support from Workforce Development Board, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Tom Mihelic and ManpowerGroup, Bartlett Economic Development and School District U-46. The event took place at ECC’s Spartan Drive Campus, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin.