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Illinois Builds Digital-Ready Workforce

SmartCities World article

In a bid to become a ‘smart state’, the State of Illinois and the IoT Talent Consortium (IoTTC) have announced a partnership to deliver an education curricula to build a digital-ready workforce.

The new collaboration will provide an affordable, state-of-the-art option for individuals interested in working in the IT industry, beginning with the growing field of data analytics, and provide a mechanism for employers to ensure a pipeline of talent in Illinois.

Working with the State of Illinois, the IoTTC will provide a prescriptive curriculum for data science skills based on the Microsoft Professional Program for data scientists, followed by cybersecurity specialists and others in the future, to help the state meet its needs.

This partnership brings powerful reskilling and comprehensive technical education in digitisation to the table for Illinois learners and businesses. It aims to:

Boost economic development for the state of Illinois by providing a 50 percent scholarship toward the data science courses for the first 500 qualified registrants;

Create opportunities for minimum security inmates by sponsoring 100 courses for the inmate population, with the possibility of additional funding for individuals who want to take their training further;

The IoTTC is bringing together companies, academia and educators all into an ecosystem to help share best practices and drive organisational transformation through building the talent and skills needed for digitisation jobs of the future. The consortium will soon offer organisational leadership and transformation content workshops to help organisations through their digital transformation journey;

Graduates from the data science track of the Microsoft Professional Program must successfully master eight core data science skills. Students apply these skills in a final capstone project that requires them to explore and cleanse a dataset, build a machine learning model to analyse the data, and publish it as a web service that will be tested and scored to determine the accuracy of the model.

"With the rise of smart states comes a rising expectation of how state services will be delivered. Fortunately, the increase in digitised infrastructure, supported by IoT technology, is providing new ways to deliver services and improve quality of life,” said Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, president, IoT Talent Consortium, vice president and general manager, Cisco Services.

“However, orchestrating transformative change on a massive scale requires more than just people who know how to install and maintain technology; there’s a pressing need for innovation, business savvy, and the ability to analyse and create cross-platform solutions that improve the way we work, live, play and learn.

“We are thrilled to welcome Illinois into our ecosystem to help share best practices and drive organisational transformation with building talent and skills needed for digitisation jobs of the future."

Leslie Munger, deputy governor of Illinois said: "Illinois’ partnership with the IoT Talent Consortium supports our commitment to building and growing a strong digital economy. These courses will help train our workforce to prepare them for jobs of the future and bring jobs back to Illinois."