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Illinois Board of Higher Education

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Higher Education Commission on the Future of the Workforce

Future of Illinois Workforce Program

USA Funds State Partnerships Build College, Career Success


The Illinois General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution 52 to create the Higher Education Commission on the Future of the Workforce.

The Commission is comprised of legislators, presidents of institutions, and representatives of business and industry.

Its purpose is to:

  • Analyze workforce needs and educational degree production in each economic development region of the state;
  • Identify partnerships to develop certificate and degree programs to address regional workforce needs;
  • Examine existing partnerships among higher education sectors to increase degree completion, and explore opportunities to expand collaboration throughout the educational pipeline to address workforce demands;
  • Develop strategies for alternative models for degree/credential production such as online learning and competency-based credits;
  • Investigate incentives for working adults and those with substantial college credit but no degree to return to college;
  • Explore strategies and practices in other states to incentivize certificate and degree completion.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) has convened Illinois state educational and economic development agencies to assemble the staff, expertise, data, and research needed to assist the Commission as it examines and develops data, effective practices, and policy recommendations to increase postsecondary education attainment and address regional workforce needs.

The Commission will build on existing efforts to improve the link between educational programming and regional workforce needs, including:

  • The ongoing development of a state plan to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA);
  • The Illinois Community College Board’s Education/Workforce strategic planning process; and
  • The effort of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) to assess the extent that current educational offerings address the range, type, and scope of skills needed by targeted employers.

IBHE also has reached out to interested groups and stakeholders to expand data, research, effective policies and practices, and additional resources available to assist the Commission in its deliberations and recommendations. See these resources on the “Links and Resources” page.

The Report

Workforce Commission Report

Meeting Dates
Commission Members

The Commission will be chaired by James Applegate, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), and includes:

  • Douglas Baker, President, Northern Illinois University
  • Representative Kelly Burke, 36th State District of the Illinois House of Representatives
  • Senator Jacqueline Collins, 16th State District of the Illinois Senate
  • John Comerford, President, Blackburn College
  • Edgar Curtis, President and Chief Executive Officer, Memorial Health System
  • Bridget Gainer, Vice President of Global Affairs, Aon
  • Representative Norine Hammond, 94th State District of the Illinois House of Representatives
  • Alice Marie Jacobs, President, Danville Area Community College
  • Jason Keller, Economic Development Director, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
  • Senator Karen McConnaughay, 33rd State District of the Illinois Senate
  • John Rico, CEO, Rico Enterprises, Inc.
Commission News
Related Links and Resources


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