CLC selected to help advance racial equity in manufacturing

College of Lake County will join a new national project led by The Century Foundation, the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, eight urban workforce development organizations concentrated in the Midwest and 12 other community colleges across the country.

The groups, selected through a competitive process and funded by Lumina Foundation, will strategize solutions to the U.S. manufacturing sector's ecosystem building, develop credential-based training programs to create a more racially inclusive future for manufacturing, and help deepen relationships between employers and communities.

"We are thrilled CLC was selected as a part of this national effort," CLC Dean of Engineering, Math and Physical Sciences Richard Ammon said. "Since manufacturing is one of the largest industry employers in Lake County, it is critical we ensure racial equity as we rebuild the future workforce in manufacturing."

"The new Advanced Technology Center opening in Gurnee this summer will expand CLC's credential program capacity and connect students directly to manufacturing jobs, ensuring a more racially equitable future for the manufacturing industry," Director of the Advanced Technology Center Jon Hardbarger said.

Even before the pandemic began, bringing a renewed focus to manufacturing as capacity shifted to producing millions of pieces of medical and personal protective equipment, the industry was growing rapidly. Pre-pandemic estimates indicated the United States needed an additional 2.4 million manufacturing workers over the next decade.

It's critical that these coming manufacturing jobs are not just filled, but are accessible to all people, particularly people of color, who faced unemployment during the pandemic at disproportionate rates. Beyond the pandemic, people of color have long faced barriers to attaining well-paying and sustainable jobs due to systemic racism throughout society, including employment.

"As the COVID-19 pandemic has painfully reminded us, far too many people have been left out and left behind for far too long," said President Bill Clinton, founder and board chair of the Clinton Foundation.

"With this economic recovery, we have both a rare opportunity and a moral imperative to build an economy that is truly inclusive and give every person the chance to succeed. We know that when organizations are more inclusive, they are more successful. Community colleges, by their very nature, are inclusive and promote opportunity for all. This commitment by the Urban Manufacturing Alliance and The Century Foundation, by partnering with community colleges across the country, is helping widen the circle of opportunity and increase racial equity in the manufacturing sector."

This coalition was announced as a commitment to action through the Clinton Global Initiative's Action Network on Inclusive Economic Recovery and Growth.

"Community colleges are uniquely positioned to connect more people, particularly people of color, to well-paying and sustainable jobs, such as those in the manufacturing industry," said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at TCF and one of the organizers of the coalition.

"Our coalition will work to align credential programs at community colleges with the industry, and to ensure that a more diverse workforce feels supported and is able to take advantage of such opportunities. We are excited to include 13 community colleges across the country in this work, as they are already critical resources to their communities and students."

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