Illinois Central College Announces New Programs to Meet Growing Job Market

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois Central College announced Tuesday the launch of several new programs to give students the skills they need to succeed in today’s growing job market.

During a press conference on the school’s Peoria campus, ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey explained how technology and innovation remain a critical part of the school’s mission.

Starting this fall, ICC will launch two new programs and a short-term certificate option, both aimed at providing fast-tracks into the workforce for high-demand, high-paying jobs.

“ICC is committed to working with local employers to identify gaps in the workforce and to provide Central Illinois residents with the skills they need to fill those gaps,” she said. “We are committed to creating a vibrant and growing economy in Central Illinois.”

The new programs include:

  1. Construction management: This degree provides practical experience in project management, cost estimating, construction methods and documentation, preparing students for direct employment in this growing field.
  2. Cybersecurity Analyst: Previously, the program was only offered as a two-year program, but now it is offered as a short-term certificate. The focus is on network security, cryptography, and ethical hacking. Students need to have this knowledge to deal with cybersecurity issues and secure jobs with local companies.
  3. Artificial intelligence: Another program that provides hands-on training in machine learning and data mining. The program also prepares students for the sought-after positions that local employers are pursuing.

ICC is also rolling out four new short-term IT certificates that students can earn in six months. They are designed to get people into the workforce quickly and help those already in employment advance their careers.

Quirk-Bailey says she’s seeing more and more students choosing these accelerated programs instead of a four-year university.

“We, particularly our youth, are questioning the value of a college education,” she said. “Part of that question is the price. And part of that question is how many years does it take to actually get that credential. So if you give them short-term certificates, they can get into the workforce faster. It costs them a lot less money.”

ICC also highlighted some new technologies already in classrooms. The emergency medicine technician program demonstrated their virtual reality headsets that students use for training. Health Career faculty presented a patient simulator that generates AI voice responses when questions are asked.

Since 2019, the school says it has helped more than 1,000 local people out of poverty and into jobs through its Workforce Equity Initiative.