Gov. Pritzker Unveils New Electric Vehicle Skills Training Program

by Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

October 21, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Governor J. B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) joined college officials and automaker Rivian today for a first look at Heartland Community College’s new Electric Vehicle Energy Storage (EVES) training program.

The new EVES training program is funded in part by the State’s $15 million Manufacturing Training Academies investment and aims to help prepare residents and businesses doing business in Illinois to keep up with demand in the fast-growing electric vehicle production sector.

“Illinois is well on our way to becoming the best state in the nation to manufacture and drive an electric vehicle. But we’re not stopping there . . . Companies coming to Illinois will find our exceptionally talented workforce ready to fill the jobs they’re creating. That’s thanks in large part to community colleges like Heartland that educate our next generation of leaders and serve as economic engines for our state. I’m proud we’re taking another step forward in creating economic growth and jobs for the people of Illinois.” Gov Pritzker said in a statement.

This fall semester, the first cohort of students in the EVES program began their training to prepare for jobs in the EV sector.  Students who complete the program will receive certification or access to apprenticeship positions in EV-related jobs, which are expected to double in Illinois over the next four years.

Students are currently learning in a facility outfitted with Rivian-donated electric vehicles and specialized equipment.  The location is temporary while HCC develops a future on-campus facility, which will be partially funded by a Rebuild Illinois capital grant.  One of two new Manufacturing Training Academies in Illinois, the proposed 6,278 SF facility will be built on the main HCC campus in Normal.

The State of Illinois has identified manufacturing and, specifically, electric vehicle production as high growth industries as part of a 5-year economic growth plan, calling for investment to assist workers and employers in preparing for future demand.  Illinois has seen significant growth in EV production in recent years, including significant hiring by Rivian and the investment of Lion Electric’s first-ever North American manufacturing center in Joliet, which will create 745 local jobs.

To support continued manufacturing growth and prepare Illinois for electrification, the administration is investing in workforce training programs like those at Heartland Community College, as well as infrastructure investments like the $70 million earmarked in the capital plan to build charging stations.

Governor Pritzker recently collaborated with the General Assembly to pass landmark clean energy legislation, including a goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.

Frank Conklin, Illinois Political Columnist for The Chicago Times.  Views and comments expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Chicago Times.

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