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Greater Peoria's higher ed institutions band together to land competitive IT workforce training grant

More than a thousand IT job openings are projected in greater Peoria each year through at least 2026.

Greater Peoria's three major institutions of higher education are joining forces to beef up the area's IT workforce training pipeline.

Illinois Central College, Eureka College, and Bradley University want to bring up to $15 million home via a U.S. Economic Development Administration Better Jobs Challenge grant.

The goal: to jumpstart a regional IT Workforce Accelerator Project. The first step is conducting a survey to assess the specific needs employers have in the Peoria area.

"This all needs to be built to individual company needs, and then we aggregate that to determine what we need to offer," said ICC president Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey.

More than 1,000 IT job openings are projected in Greater Peoria each year through at least 2026. Filling those openings will require not only training up people entering the workforce, but also looking to upskill people already working in the industry, as well as those looking to make a career change.

One aspect of the program would focus on removing barriers for students.

"We could provide devices, we could provide wi-fi for the home while people are in training," Quirk-Bailey said. "So just taking away all of those things that could get in the way of keeping someone from moving forward."

ICC hopes to gather input by Dec. 7.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.