By BEN ORNER
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker last week announced new resources to help the hundreds of thousands of people unemployed in Illinois, unveiling an online portal that will offer job training and connect job seekers with prospective employers.
Get Hired Illinois is a “one-stop shop” for job seekers of all levels and backgrounds to access career training programs, virtual job fairs and opportunities to connect with employers, the governor said.
“It's critical that our state do everything possible to help our residents get back to work, whether returning to positions that they once held or with employers who are seeking to hire,” Pritzker said.
The state says Get Hired currently features 60,000 available jobs, and that more than 70 employers have committed to hosting virtual job fairs on the site.
Starting June 1, unemployed Illinoisans will also qualify for free, unlimited access to courses through Coursera, an online platform that offers thousands of courses and hundreds of specializations.
Coursera will focus on training in the information technology field, which is in high demand as workplaces operate remotely during the pandemic. After finishing online programs, participants can continue their studies at a local community college or university. Free access to Coursera will run through the end of the year.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security has processed more than 1,076,000 unemployment claims since March 1, Pritzker said, which is “about six times as many claims as in the equivalent time period of the 2008-2009 Great Recession.”
More than 70,000 new Illinoisans applied for unemployment insurance last week, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Labor. The federal agency also reported that more than 750,000 Illinoisan renewed their unemployment claims last week.
Pritzker also said that more than 50,000 federal pandemic unemployment assistance applications have been filed since May 11, which offer benefits to independent contractors, self-employed individuals and others who do not normally qualify for unemployment.