DIGGING DEEPER: Reasons behind Rockford's unemployment numbers - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

DIGGING DEEPER: Reasons behind Rockford's unemployment numbers


Rockford has struggled with unemployment for years.

As companies have left so have the jobs.

But as more businesses open up shop one challenge is keeping young talent to stay in town.

"I do think we struggle with students going away to post-secondary and developing new roots and relationships in other communities and not necessarily having a sense of connection or belonging in Rockford," says Rockford Public Schools College and Career Readiness Executive Director David Carson.

RPS 205 is trying to keep them in Rockford with new partnerships with local universities and businesses.

It's also one of the goals of its career academies.

"We work with the Illinois Department of Employment Security to look at job projections for the next five, 10, 15 years to ensure that we are preparing students for jobs that will be available in Rockford," says Alignment Rockford Executive Director Bridget French.

And while the unemployment numbers remain high Rockford Area Economic Development Council President Mike Nicholas says you have to look behind the stats.

"We're employing more people. The dilemma of course is some people might not have the skills employers are looking for," Nicholas says.

Nicholas says Rockford is actually adding jobs and there's many that are currently open. 

The problem Nicholas says is some people don't have the soft skills to get them.

"We want to know can they follow instructions, are they going to show up on time, do they have a good work attitude, are they a team player," Nicholas says. "Soft skills part is almost becoming more important than the hard skills part."

It's an issue RPS 205 is trying to educate its students with as young as elementary school.

But the challenge continues to get greater as more companies continue open shop in Rockford. The unemployment rate also continues to hover near the top in the state.

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