New McHenry County College apprenticeship program set to address skills gap

Sage Legacy Fund giving 2-year grant of $183,220

McHenry County College will launch a new apprenticeship training program this fall to address the skills gap in manufacturing and other industries, in partnership with area employers and the McHenry County Workforce Network.

The program is supported by grants that will be used to train and employ individuals for high-demand, well-paying positions with local industries.

The program aims to attract students, veterans, dislocated workers, low-income individuals with disabilities, single parents and those unemployed and underemployed.

Apprenticeship programs combine both classroom instruction and paid on-the-job training while offering a pathway that enables individuals to move from entry-level work to highly paid careers.

The program aims to offset the growing skills gap – the mismatch between the caliber of talent employers need to sustain and grow their businesses and the talent they actually can find and retain.

At an annual forum hosted by the college, local manufacturers underscored the effect the skills gap is having on their businesses and the critical roles played by high schools, MCC and the workforce network to help develop a pipeline of skilled workers.

The skills gap is not limited to manufacturing – health care, finance, insurance and information technology workplaces all are experiencing shortages of skilled workers.

To address these challenges, the college will work with area business leaders to develop work-based training programs focused on employer-specific job requirements.

Apprenticeship programs are proven models that offer valuable learn-and-earn experiences while addressing employers’ workforce pipeline needs.

To put the effort in motion to match students with jobs, MCC recently appointed Evelyn Seiler of Huntley as coordinator of the new Internship and Apprenticeship Program.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this new model in our community to fill job gaps,” Seiler said. “Our goal is to successfully meet the needs of our employers to fill the skills gaps, and we plan to do that by providing students the best education we can to get them into those jobs.”

Seiler said the objective is to place at least 19 individuals into advanced manufacturing technology or information technology apprenticeships with McHenry County employers over an 18-month period.

Before joining MCC, Seiler worked for 12 years at Harper College, including the past 10 years as the administrative coordinator for the Division of Workforce and Strategic Alliances/Workforce Solutions, and she coordinated the Northwest Illinois Workforce Coalition.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Ohio University in Athens and a master’s degree in organizational development/leadership from Benedictine University in Lisle. She is working toward her doctorate in community college leadership.

MCC’s apprenticeship program is supported by outside grants. The college received a two-year grant of $183,220 from the Sage Legacy Fund and an 18-month grant of $50,000 through the Illinois Community College Board for the apprenticeship program.

“The Sage Legacy Fund is proud to partner with MCC in this transformative program that will benefit committed individuals, businesses large and small, and the overall community,” said Scott Brown, a Sage Legacy Fund board member. “Sage believes in preparing people for success. Apprenticeships do exactly that, and now that funding is in place, we hope local businesses will step up, engage and experience the positive impact of this program.”

The industrial maintenance technician apprenticeship and the computer numerical control machining apprenticeship both begin in mid-October.