A new employment program run by the state of Illinois will use federal stimulus dollars to employ thousands of Illinoisans.
Gov. Pat Quinn unveiled the “Put Illinois to Work” program March 26; a week later, 349 employers statewide have agreed to employ more than 2,800 workers.
The program is an anti-poverty effort designed to rejuvenate the work force by helping unemployed and underemployed Illinoisans find work and develop skills. The goal for the program is to create 15,000 jobs, and it is a collaborative effort between the Illinois Department of Human Services, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Heartland Human Care Services.
Tom Green, spokesman for Illinois Department of Human Services, said the program is funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund, which received $215 million in federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He said in Southern Illinois, the state has arranged for Man-Tra-Con to be the subcontractor that will oversee the program.
Green said the program will allow employers to hire subsidized employees at no cost to them for six-month positions. He said unless Congress extends the program, the positions would end at that time, but he said the program could benefit both employees and employers.
“It helps the workers develop skills to attain permanent employment,” Green said.
He said the program will give employees the opportunity to train at a position for six months, in which time employers can then hire the already trained employees if their business expands, or the employees can seek employment elsewhere with the skills they have developed.
Green said he would encourage any employer or employee interested in participating to contact the state or visit the program’s website, www.putillinoistowork.gov.
Although there is no limit, participants must meet eligibility requirements. Participants must be between the ages of 18 and 21, or 18 and older and the parent of a minor child. To be eligible, an employee must have an income below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, which is $2,428 per month for a family of two, and be authorized to work legally.