ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois has been ranked as the best place for workforce development in the Midwest.

That state, which was ranked number two in 2021, shot up to the top spot for 2022. The ranking highlights Illinois’ commitment to providing innovative workforce programs, career training, and employment services that create resources for jobseekers and ensure businesses continue to thrive, according to Governor JB Pritzker.

“When we invest in workforce development, we create opportunities for every Illinoisan and establish a more economically prosperous future for our state,” Pritzker said. “Through my administration’s historic investments in education, infrastructure, and business development, we’re creating thousands of good-paying jobs and a skilled workforce that’s ready for those jobs. We’re keeping our state’s best assets — our people — at the forefront of economic progress.”

The ranking, which comes from the magazine Site Selection, recognizes “states that performed well in a set of measures that gauge workforce-related aspects of states’ overall employment climate.”

“Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, Illinois has developed a reputation as a national leader in workforce readiness and development,” said Acting DCEO Director Kristin A. Richards. “Illinois has made investing in workforce a top priority and earning the top spot reflects the State’s commitment to our outstanding workers.” 

The Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program was launched in 2021 to increase job access to underrepresented populations. Nearly $10 million was awarded to 22 organizations across the state that year, resulting in 1,024 participants securing jobs.

In 2022, $30 million was provided 30 organizations, leading to 1,400 pre-apprentices.