DECATUR — Shane McDermith, of Shaner’s Towing, learned about the various options available to his business during the Decatur Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Wednesday at the Decatur Club.

Like many businesses throughout the country, McDermith said he has been in need of employees since before the pandemic.

“I’m just looking forward to having a life again,” he said. “We’re the night shift and the day shift.”

The breakfast was an opportunity for businesses to learn more about Workforce Investment Solutions and other agencies able to connect employers with future employees.

Annamarie Dorr, Central Illinois Regional Workforce Development manager, explained the resources available to businesses during one of their more challenging times.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is a public workforce program that is federally funded to help employees prepare for high quality jobs and employers find skilled workers. “The purpose is to support local and regional economies,” Dorr said.

Working with various governmental departments, Workforce Investments provides skilled and upgrade training, apprenticeships, supportive services such as childcare and transportation costs, and equipment or tools needed for training.

“Once someone gets enrolled in the WIOA program we see them through, all the way ’til they are in the job,” Dorr said.

Throughout the training, Workforce Investments also works toward job-readiness skills including interview preparation and communication skills in the workplace.

“Our goal is to help people become self-sufficient and help them set out a career pathway,” Dorr said.

rocki wilkerson


Rocki Wilkerson, Workforce Investment Solutions executive director, works with the local businesses and employees. She has assisted with training in manufacturing, healthcare and logistics as well as many other careers. “We have tried to continue serving this community regardless of the pandemic,” Wilkerson said.

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Changes and challenges are expected in the near future.

“It’s hard to come back in and say ‘How can I be retrained?,’ ‘Where do I go?,’ ‘What are the resources?’,” Wilkerson said. “We’re there to help those people.”

Sue Scherer


State Rep. Sue Scherer sat among the business owners and representatives during Wednesday’s breakfast, but was well aware of the advantages Workforce Investments was able to provide to the communities.

“Somebody’s always out of work,” she said. “The first thing I say is ‘Did you go to them?’ A lot of times they didn’t know what it is.”

Workforce Investments connects the employer and the employee, as well as providing services for a successful transition. According to Scherer, Workforce Investments has resources available through the use of the American Rescue Plan Act.

“They’ve got the money to really give a lot of help right now,” she said. “You don’t have to go through it alone.”

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For his towing company, McDermith needs about 10 drivers and a second-shift receptionist. “I’ve had the phones every night,” he said. “It’s a whole different life in Decatur after midnight.”

Rick Price, Fuyao Glass Illinois human resources vice president, has a goal of hiring some 10 employees a week. He often partners with Workforce Investments to hire skilled workers. “It’s hard,” Price said. “People sign up, but they don’t show up.”

Fuyao used online interviews during the pandemic, with little success. He hopes once the government ends the stimulus offer which extended unemployment benefits, he will meet serious applicants. In-person interviews and application opportunities, similar to a Fuyao event in January 2020 hosted by Workforce Investments, has proven to be beneficial for companies. “It’s the in-person, getting to talk to someone, to show them what you do at the plant,” Price said.

Price credits Workforce Investments for helping him find qualified employees. “It’s an untapped source that some businesses don’t know about,” he said. “All you have to do is make the phone call, Workforce takes it from there.”

Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR