Support from the RPC’s Workforce Development Program Helps East Central Illinois Address Worker Shortage in 2022

An employee receiving job training

Thanks to a high quality of life, emerging industries, available postsecondary education options, and spirit of collaboration, East Central Illinois is poised to grow and recover quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout 2022, the RPC’s Workforce Development program did its part to address the worker shortage by providing career services, job training, and support to those in the community with barriers to employment.

As RPC Workforce Development Director Dr. Justin Arnold points out, American employers—including many in East Central Illinois—felt the pinch of population loss in 2022 while job seekers displayed new attitudes towards work. A decrease in available workers became noticeable as the decades-long decline in birthrates was finally felt and some states saw residents moving away for new jobs and neighborhoods.

There was also a loss of worker supply as some job seekers decided to work less, some two-income families decided that one wage earner would stay home, and others retired early. Employers voiced concerns that younger workers who were hoped to fill vacated positions lacked job readiness and technical skills. Many young men even opted out of college altogether.

“Those who work in workforce development are aware of the need to provide a response to widespread changes while also keeping in mind the purpose and requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA),” Dr. Arnold says. “Investing in human capital does not meet all immediate needs, but it is a part of a long-term and sustainable strategy. By being mission-driven, our program can help struggling families find and retain good jobs.”

That focus is outlined in Workforce Development’s 2022 Annual Report. The report details how the RPC served area adults and dislocated workers through job training and referrals for additional supportive services, while highlighting WIOA’s purpose and helping the area’s WIOA-funded youth programs integrate those elements into their workforce development activities. The report also looks at how the RPC helped local businesses through On-the-Job Training, Incumbent Worker Training, and job posting and recruitment.

Innovation was also part of the RPC’s focus in 2022, with the launch of a Mobile Workforce Center to provide career services at community events, a partnership with the Illinois Department of Corrections to help returning citizens in the five surrounding correctional institutions, and an apprenticeship capacity-building project made possible by a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

“Alongside community talent attraction and placemaking investments, with the community’s  help workforce development will continue to provide workable solutions to our most pressing challenges” Dr. Arnold comments.


  1. Keosha L Kersh says:

    What jobs are available for training?

  2. Maurey Williamson says:

    You can look on the East Central Illinois workNet website for more information:

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