Durbin Announces Nearly $13 Million in Federal Funding to Support Innovative Job Training Program at Harper College

Harper College's Advanced Manufacturing Training Program Will Use Funding to Expand Statewide

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the Department of Labor has awarded a total of $12,939,459 in funding through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program to expand William Rainey Harper College's Advanced Manufacturing Training Program to other community colleges throughout Illinois.


Developed in close partnership with regional manufacturers, Harper’s program helps workers develop the skills they need to find employment in their communities and fill critical job openings at growing businesses. At Durbin’s invitation, partners in Harper College’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Program spoke at a meeting of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee in June regarding their innovative job training and certification program.


“Harper Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Degree and Training Program is a great example of an innovative partnership that is putting people back to work, filling critical shortages at growing businesses and manufacturers, and spurring local economic development. I was pleased to welcome the program’s representatives to Washington earlier this year to hear them share their experience and discuss how to apply their successful practices to other communities, which is exactly what this funding will allow them to do,” Durbin said.


“On behalf of our manufacturing and community college partners, we are very pleased to be awarded this grant which will help train workers for 21st century jobs throughout Illinois,” said Harper College President Dr. Ken Ender. “These aren’t stereotypical factories anymore. It’s high-tech manufacturing using state-of-the-art equipment that requires good math and computer skills as well as critical thinking. We believe our fast track curriculum combined with paid internships will help provide manufacturers with the workers they need in order to grow and thrive in a global economy.”


Harper College will expand its program to the following schools: College of Lake County, College of DuPage, Daley-City Colleges of Chicago, Danville Area Community College, Elgin Community College, Illinois Eastern Community College, Illinois Valley Community College, John Wood Community College, Joliet Junior College, Kankakee Community College, Kishwaukee College, Lincoln Land Community College, McHenry County College, Oakton Community College, Prairie State College, Richland Community College, South Suburban College, Southwestern Illinois College, Triton College, and Waubonsee Community College.


A recent report by the Manufacturing Institute found that companies across the United States cannot fill an estimated 600,000 positions in the advanced manufacturing sector due to a shortage of skilled workers. Harper College’s program attempts to address this critical skills gap in several unique ways, including offering industry-endorsed skills certificates and paid internships with local manufacturing partners. It is also designed to encourage younger students to consider a career in manufacturing by giving high school students the opportunity to earn college credit through the program.