Parkland SWFT Program Receives Funding for Third Year
SWFT: Free Workforce Equity Training Program
Parkland College announced today that the Support for Workforce Training (SWFT) program has been refunded for a third year. In collaboration with the Illinois Community College Board and State Rep. Carol Ammons, SWFT will be able to continue to provide free, short-term training to underserved populations in the college's district.
Backed by a $1.2 million Illinois Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) grant, Parkland's SWFT program aims to help more than 130 district residents move into high-demand careers with family-sustaining wages within a year or less. The WEI grant aims address historic underrepresentation of African Americans in high-demand, high-wage careers, thus requiring African Americans to comprise 60 percent of the population served by the SWFT program.
The initiative was spearheaded by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus with strong support from State Rep. Carol Ammons.
"Congratulations to Parkland College for their award of $1.2 million toward the SWFT Program. I'm honored to represent and advocate for programs like this and thank my caucus, The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, for prioritizing education and workforce development for our students and community. This incredible initiative does vital work in providing Parkland students with training in career options such as healthcare, transportation, construction, and business. The SWFT program is an excellent model of how higher education institutions can support their students holistically and guide them on a pathway toward success well beyond graduation."
Along with providing tuition, fee, and book waivers for training and stipends to help tackle higher education-access barriers, the initiative will address local workforce gaps and employment barriers in an effort to prepare skilled workers to move into employment upon program completion. Participants who are eligible and awarded funding will receive wraparound support services, such as academic counseling, career advising and workshops, and essential skills training.
"I'm thrilled at the news that we can continue serving our students for another year," said Alicia Beck, director of SWFT. "In two years alone, we've helped more than 350 students who are finding employment in positions with an average hourly wage of $20. Parkland is always standing ready to support our community and is looking forward to a new year with new opportunities for our SWFT students."
Students may select from 12 Parkland College degree or certificate programs in four technical career categories: construction and manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and distribution, and business and IT services. Career options vary widely and include welding and HVAC installation; office assistant and computer technical skills; sterile processing technician, EMT, and CNA; and truck driver CDL, automotive repair, and forklift, among others. Programs can be completed in a year or less.
Spring enrollment is underway. To begin the process, interested individuals should visit www.parkland.edu/swft.
Those eligible for the incentives may include incumbent workers, unemployed persons, members of underrepresented minority groups, those receiving SNAP benefits and other need-based aid, formerly incarcerated persons, those receiving housing assistance, and others demonstrating financial need.
The grant period began December 2021 and extends through December 2022.
For more information, please visit www.parkland.edu/swft or contact the SWFT program office at 217/353-2150.