LISLE – As elected officials struggle to fund higher education and expand vocational career training programs, employers in Illinois are working with industry partners to encourage students to complete career training programs at technical schools. Some employers are now offering tuition reimbursement, and other hiring incentives, to help pay for technical education.
“The demand for qualified automotive and diesel technicians has never been higher in Chicago and Illinois,” Ian Hardie, employment service director at Universal Technical Institute’s campus in Lisle, said in UTI's news release. “Given the shortage of qualified applicants, employers have to compete to attract the top talent. It is a matter of simple supply and demand.”
Illinois' transportation employers are expected to need to fill 1,300 positions annually until 2022, according to state projections cited in the release. However, employers are struggling to find qualified applicants who have completed industry-recognized training programs.
“The state has not done a great job of building a vocational training pipeline, so industry has stepped up to work with our partner technical schools to build workforce training programs,” Nick Stafford, technical recruiter for Illinois-based CIT Trucks, said in the release. “We are competing against 60 to 70 other employers at campus career fairs, so we need to increase our recruiting efforts to stand out.”
Universal Technical Institute’s campus in Lisle is helping state employers fill the demand with its programs solely focused on the transportation industry. Across the nation, nine of the 10 largest national auto dealership groups and more than 100 employers in Illinois have partnered with Universal Technical Institute to offer tuition reimbursement and incentive programs to attract qualified candidates.
The skills shortage is not unique to the transportation industry, according to the release, which noted that in announcing a recent grant, the Illinois State Board of Education cited a national study that found nearly half of young people do not have the skills to compete for a high-skill, in-demand job by the age of 25.
Headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., the 50-year-old Universal Technical Institute is described as the leading provider of post-secondary education for students seeking careers as professional automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle and marine technicians. For more information, visit www.uti.edu.