State of Illinois announces $44 Million in Workforce Training for Jobseekers and At-Risk Youth

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has announced significant investments to expand workforce training and support Illinois’ continued economic recovery from the pandemic, State Representative Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, shared today.

The new initiatives include a $40 million workforce recovery grant program aimed to get more jobseekers back to work, while helping sectors impacted most by COVID-19. The funding will expand workforce training, job training and support services as well as covering basic expenses that are barriers to those seeking employment. To ensure a holistic approach in creating a more equitable workforce, DCEO also released $4.4 million in career training grants for at-risk youth.

“It’s time to help more of our friends and neighbors get back on their feet and support their families, and that means investing in job training programs that equip people of every age and background with skills that give them a leg up when re-entering the workforce with the confidence to succeed on a new career path,” Rep. Keicher said. “I am excited to share this news with our community. Local residents are welcome to contact my office if they need any assistance connecting with one of these initiatives.”

Workforce Recovery Grants

The State of Illinois will leverage $40 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to provide workforce recovery grants focused on helping increase employment among workers and industries hit hardest by COVID-19. The workforce recovery grant program will utilize the state’s Job Training and Economic Development Program (JTED) model to boost access to education, training, and supportive services needed for vulnerable residents to successfully re-enter the labor force.

Illinois will invest in training programs that support regional and local economic development for businesses and individuals most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The program will expand access to training, job placement, support services and reduce barriers that prevent individuals from successfully re-entering the labor force. Additionally, flexible funding is available for individuals with emergency costs for basic needs that prevent them from participating in training programs or employment.  It is anticipated that 1,500 Illinois unemployed, underemployed, or underrepresented citizens in disproportionately impacted areas will receive needed services.

Youth Career Pathways

To build on the state’s recent investments in youth career training programs, DCEO announced the release of $4.4 million in grants to support increased access to training for at-risk youth across the state.  These investments will support an expansion of training programs across the state with funds deployed to 20 partner organizations serving an estimated 500 youth over a one-year period.

The State of Illinois has made significant investments in training programs for students, workforce development aligned to high-growth industries, as well as a record-level of investment in apprenticeships through programs like Illinois Works. These new investments in workforce recovery fulfill a central tenet of the state’s economic recovery plan – focused on reinvigorating businesses and communities and helping residents get back on their feet. For information on workforce training opportunities, please visit DCEO’s website:

For questions or more information, please call Representative Keicher’s district office at (815) 748-3494.