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Daily Herald: Steps Toward a More Educated Illinois Workforce

11/21/2013 12:00 AM

By Harry Berman, Executive Director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education​​

More than 140,000 high-skilled jobs are unfilled within the state of Illinois because workers lack the necessary skills. With declining numbers of high school students and increasing numbers of low-income young people who are the first in their family to pursue a college education, our colleges and universities have great challenges to make sure their students succeed.

The need is clear. We must create a pipeline of educated and skilled Illinois citizens to fill these jobs, and Illinois colleges should be ready to provide it.

We may not have to turn far for the answer to our challenges. Here in Illinois, individual college campuses have continued to innovate and implement new approaches to solving cost and completion problems in higher education. ... 

Illinois needs more student-focused and responsive programs like the City Colleges of Chicago's tutoring and mentorship summer program. The Level Up program is designed to prepare first-year students for college level work in math and English and reduce the need for remedial courses for CCC students. We need more innovations like the measures taken by Southern Illinois University to reduce "credit creep," the unnecessary credits students take on their road to attaining a degree. 

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