Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap in Illinois

April 14, 2016


This business-led approach to #skillsgap can save manufacturing in Illinois.

Job fields that require a specific skill set are feeling the effects of the skills gap most. Manufacturing companies such as Danville Metal Stamping in Illinois are struggling to fill jobs for this very reason, and are being forced to implement in-house training programs. These programs are costly and inefficient, and therefore not a sustainable means of filling needed positions. Vermillion Advantage, a nonprofit economic development organization in Illinois, has incorporated the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) strategies in order to identify and implement a solution.

Through this partnership, Vermillion Advantage has facilitated collaboration not just between businesses, but between the educational community and the political community as well. Vermillion Advantage has taken a TPM approach to Illinois’ skills gap by partnering with local colleges to provide the demand planning data that helps colleges ensure they are have the programs needed by employers. This demand-driven effort extends beyond individual employers to the community as a whole, developing a sustainable program focused on long-term issues. 

Vermilion Advantage

Vermilion Advantage has a proven county-wide model to align workforce, economic development, and education efforts in the manufacturing sector. However, the organization has faced key challenges in utilizing state programs, effectively aligning local efforts, forecasting demand for future talent needs, and expanding reach to additional employers to promote accelerated and work-based education and training models. To expand its work, Vermilion must find new ways to reach out to employers and offer new tools to help their manufacturers plan and implement demand-driven solutions to workforce needs.

To explain the value of the demand-driven approach to the business community, Vermilion Advantage is developing a series of guides aimed at five critical manufacturing positions that lay out how talent pipeline strategies can be used to help manufacturing employers across the state find, grow, and hire talent in a smarter way.

For example, one of the guides Vermilion is creating focuses on the importance of demand planning for talent needs by updating and adapting Vermilion’s current Annual Jobs Projection Survey. By improving upon current work, Vermilion is laying the groundwork for manufacturers in the region to engage in demand planning in new ways.

Learn more about Talent Pipeline Management here.


Allex Weil is an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California and a spring intern at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.