P33 and Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) today launched TechReady Illinois, an effort to help Illinois residents hurt by COVID-19 gain new digital skills at steeply discounted tuition rates.
In-state residents can enroll in training courses in the high-demand fields of computer science, data and engineering at a 50-75% discount. Courses will be offered in one of four tracks: data and analytics; cloud computing; cybersecurity; or software development, with opportunities to obtain a certificate upon completion.
Participating institutions include the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois System, the Illinois Institute of Technology and City Colleges of Chicago.
More than 1 million Illinoisans filed for unemployment in the first nine weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, more than five times the same period of the Great Recession.
“Illinois has some of the leading computer science, data and engineering programs in the world,” said Bill Jackson, executive Director of DPI. “The TechReady Illinois program will provide participants high-quality training that they’ll be able to put to use immediately at a price that is appropriate for this economically devastating moment.”
Computer and information technology are among the fastest growing careers in the United States with demand for these jobs expected to grow by 16% from 2018-2026.
“The data shows us that jobs with a tech and analytics lens consistently see higher demand than those without and come back quicker after economic downturns,” said Brad Henderson, CEO of P33. “People are facing unprecedented challenges, and Chicago’s tech community is stepping up to help. Through this program, Illinois residents will be able to build valuable skills, create a portfolio of work for future employers and grow Chicago’s technology talent pool.”
To participate, residents will complete virtual courses, some conducted by faculty from participating academic institutions. Others will be run by partners, including Coursera and i.c.stars. Many of these courses will lead to certificates.
Students also will receive coaching and exposure to experts in their field.
In order to serve a broad set of Illinoisans, TechReady Illinois offers programs valuable to both experienced technologists looking to sharpen their skills and novices interested in pivoting to a tech career for the first time. The TechReady Illinois team will be intentional about reaching underserved individuals to increase access to these learning opportunities.
“We need a new path to reduce racial bias and economic inequality,” said Allstate Chair, President and CEO Tom Wilson. “TechReady Illinois leverages our universities, diverse economy and can-do attitude to make us a worldwide leader in the burgeoning digital economy. Directing this effort to people and communities that are suffering from underinvestment in their futures is a beacon of hope in this tumultuous time.”
Over the coming weeks, the teams at P33 and DPI will continue to expand the TechReady Illinois program with new certificates, coaching opportunities and benefits.
“Upskilling is a key part of DPI’s tech talent development strategy, and we have moved up our launch by more than a year because people need this now more than ever,” Jackson said. “As the economy recovers, we will add customized training programs for individual companies that partner with us.”
For more information on TechReady Illinois, please visit TechReadyIllinois.com.
The Discovery Partners Institute empowers people to jumpstart their tech careers or companies in Chicago. Led by the University of Illinois System in partnership with top research universities, it does two things: tech talent development and applied R&D. DPI prepares students and workers to step into high-demand tech jobs. It also builds research teams and matches them with new funding. With state investment and a new innovation district in development, DPI has the resources to attract, develop and leverage the most ambitious people and companies the region has to offer — and keep them here.
P33 is a privately funded non-profit focused on driving inclusive, global tech and innovation leadership for Chicagoland. P33’s work is anchored in deep research and driven by a need to unlock the potential of the digital age to solve some of the toughest problems facing Chicago, such as equitable access to digital careers, talent retention, deep science commercialization and gaps in our growth stage startup ecosystem. Officially launched in 2019, P33 is co-chaired by Penny Pritzker, former Secretary of Commerce and founder and chairman of PSP Partners; Chris Gladwin, CEO and Co-founder of Ocient and Cleversafe; and Kelly Welsh, President of the Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago.