Tri States Public Radio Staff
Mon March 12, 2012
Survey Goal is to Boost Economic Activity
Monmouth is a partner in a new survey that will provide a snapshot of the job skills of the workforce in western Illinois-and the the skills they might need.
Community Development Director Paul Schuytema said the survey has two goals. One is to provide a detailed picture of the area in light of the 2010 census data. He said any large firm looking at locating in the area will be concerned with the regional workforce instead of just that in one city. He said the second goal is to discover skill sets that are lacking in the region.
Schuytema said, “What's a little bit different about this survey is it's really trying to dive deep into what's really the nature of the workforce here in Warren County and in western Illinois as far as what are training practices,the strengths and weaknesses of the workforce.”
He also said the survey will reveal “sweet spots” of particular skills.
He said, “What you're kind of looking for to recruit these is a regional approach where there is a certain level of not yet committed workforce that can be pulled into a new enterprise and also that workforce has the skills or has the potential for those skills.”
The data on skills that are lacking in the area will be of great importance for small businesses. He said small businesses prefer employees who can be productive immediately to save on the cost of training.
Health care workers with computer skills and those with manufacturing skills such as welding are in high demand.
Schuytema also said the survey will determine where job training dollars should be spent. He said there might be a need for vocational training beyond high school and for those who have lost their jobs and need to train in a new vocation.
Overall, 502 businesses in Adams, Brown, Cass, Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Knox, Mason, McDonough, Morgan, Pike, Schuyler, Scott and Warren County will be surveyed.
Schuytema hopes the results-when coupled with a city survey of downtown retail businesses-will boost economic development in the city.