Sen. Durbin Visits Job Training Center: Lessons in Cultivating Policymaker Champions

October 13, 2014

On September 30, 2014, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) visited Jane Addams Resource Corporation (JARC) at their new training facility in Addison, IL. Senator Durbin toured the facility and spoke with several trainees to learn more about their struggles to find good jobs while supporting themselves and their families. He also spoke with staff to better understand how JARC is preparing unemployed, low-income and disadvantaged jobseekers in Chicago’s western suburbs for good-paying jobs in manufacturing.

Senator Durbin has been an outspoken advocate for job-driven training and workforce development efforts, but this has not happened on its own. JARC, along with other key stakeholders in Illinois, has done a tremendous job of keeping their congressional delegation informed and educated on Illinois’ middle-skill gap, the innovative training practices and partnerships they’ve developed to impact this challenge, and key ways federal policy can better support the state’s workers and employers. By coordinating site visits (this was Senator Durbin’s second visit to JARC in the last five years), meeting with staff on the Hill (Guy Loudon, Executive Director of JARC, has been a regular visitor to the Hill through the NSC Skills Summit), and maintaining ongoing formal and informal conversations with local and DC staff, JARC keeps their members of Congress informed and in the loop.

NSC encourages all of our partners to maintain active engagement with policymakers. It’s one of the only methods that we as a field have to cultivate true champions on the Hill that understand the importance of job-driven training. These champions will work at the federal and state level to ensure that effective strategies and measured investments are embedded in the framework of all training and education policy.

If you’re looking for ways to frame the message with your own policymakers, check out the Middle-Skill Jobs Fact Sheet for your state. We also facilitate regular calls with partners in the field and the staff of their members of Congress; if this is something in which you’d be interested, feel free to reach out to Ashley Shaw, our Field Coordinator. And if you have employer partners that can speak passionately on pipeline challenges and collaborative solutions, consider connecting them with Business Leaders United. Together we can continue to elevate what’s working and change what isn’t.

Photo Credit: Jane Addams Resource Corporation