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 Economic Development News 
Tuesday, August 16 2016
Sauk Valley/Northwest Illinois Region takes on Work Skills Gap

Sterling, IL -- One of the biggest challenges facing U.S. manufacturers today is the growing skills gap, and local manufacturers are not immune to this problem. But rather than simply complain about the problem several manufacturers and educators in the Northwest Illinois Region have decided to take action. A group of ten local manufacturers, Sauk Valley Community College (SVCC), and the Whiteside Area Career Center (WACC) have joined together to form the Multicraft Internship Advisory Board (MIAB), a partnership determined to make a difference in workforce development for the region. 

At the heart of the MIAB’s initiative is a work skills development program that complements the Multicraft Technology degree program at SVCC.

The college collaborated with local manufacturers in 2012 to create the Multicraft Technology Program.  A key component to the curriculum was a short work study to cement ideas taught in the classroom. This component has now led to the creation in May, 2016, of the MIAB, and now the launching of the Multicraft Extended Internship Program (MEIP). The MEIP provides an outstanding opportunity for select students to obtain valuable work experience, and get paid, while earning their two year AAS degree in the Multicraft Technology Program at SVCC. Ten local businesses have partnered with SVCC to offer part-time positions for students so they can apply what they are learning in the classroom to the job site. A second program covering Tool & Die-CNC is being developed.    

Another critical component of the program is the melding of the manufacturing program at WACC with the Multicraft Technology Program to assure a seamless pipeline of students educated in the disciplines needed here in the Sauk Valley Region.

John Gvozdjak, President and COO at FRANTZ Manufacturing in Sterling stated, “We have been wrestling with workforce development for some time, and hadn’t been successful in identifying outside programs that were a good fit for a small company like ours. This was a problem faced by many of our neighbors, so we joined together and approached SVCC and WACC about developing a program that is cost effective and focuses on the skills needed for the industries in our region.  I think we’re definitely on target here with our Multicraft Technology Internship Program.” 

SVCC President David Hellmich added, “Community Colleges have been increasingly called on by businesses and elected officials to help fill the workforce skills gap, and SVCC takes this very seriously. We listened to the concerns and challenges of our region’s businesses, and together with our business partners and WACC developed the Manufacturing Technology curriculum. 

Students work towards a two year degree, gain practical experience and emerge from the program workforce ready and with a career path.”    

Participating companies are Crest Foods (Ashton), Borg Warner and Spectrum Brands (Dixon), Fulton Corp and Timken Drives (Fulton), E.D. Etnyre (Oregon), Genesis III (.Prophetstown) and ASTEC Mobile Screens, FRANTZ Manufacturing Company, Walmart Distribution Center (all in Sterling). 

Whiteside County Economic Development Director Gary Camarano said, “This is the type of public/private partnerships that we are looking for - businesses and educational institutions coming together to confront and overcome obstacles. The program does several things for the region. It partially answers the problem of the skills gap, gives young people a reason to stay in the region, and lets prospective businesses know that we take workforce development seriously here. Getting greater participation from the business community and the student base is the next step, and that is currently being addressed. It’s a fantastic step for us and we should all get behind this.”

Additional information about the Multicraft Extended Internship Program can be found at:

For further information about the MIAB contact John Gvozdjak at 815.625.7063, and for information about the Muliticraft Extended Internship Program contact John Mandrell,  Vice President of Academics and Student Services at Sauk Valley Community College, at 815.835.6344, or Paula Rademacher, Director, Whiteside Area Career Center, at 815.626.5810.

Posted by: AT 09:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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