Cook County Launches Manufacturing Apprenticeship Accelerator Program to Boost Talent Pipeline

(COOK COUNTY, IL) – Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced today the launch of the Cook County Manufacturing Apprenticeship Accelerator program to provide Cook County manufacturers with a “concierge service” to identify and screen candidates for vacant U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)-registered apprenticeships.

“As the name suggests, this program will accelerate talent acquisition for manufacturers and accelerate career pathways for individuals seeking a career in manufacturing – a win-win situation for all,” said President Preckwinkle. “We’re grateful to Skills for Chicagoland’s Future for their experience and partnership."

Across the globe, apprenticeships, or “earn and learn” models, have demonstrated the long-term benefits from upfront investments, including a pipeline of skilled employees, increased productivity, reduced turnover and high employee engagement. Yet, in today’s economy, many manufacturers struggle to find the talent they need.

To fill the gap, the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development (BED) created the Manufacturing Apprenticeship Accelerator and partnered with Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a nonprofit in Chicago that has worked with over 120 employer partners spanning the manufacturing, healthcare and finance sectors and placed over 12,000 candidates in job opportunities over the last 11 years.  

As a part of the program, Skills for Chicagoland's Future will work directly with employers to meet their talent needs and will provide supportive services to apprentices during their first 90 days of employment. These services include career counseling, transportation assistance, professional attire and referrals for childcare. Employers and interested candidates are invited to visit the Skills for Chicagoland’s Future website to access their respective portals.

The Manufacturing Apprenticeship Accelerator is funded through $810,000 that Cook County received through the American Rescue Plan Act. The program will run through April 2026.

“Skills for Chicagoland’s Future is thrilled to be working with Cook County to help overlooked talent connect with employers so they can pursue careers that lead to economic stability and mobility,” said Pam Tully, president and chief operating officer at Skills for Chicagoland’s Future.

Tom Simeone, president of Manor Tool and Manufacturing Company in Schiller Park, said that apprenticeships are vital for the manufacturing industry.

“Hands down, apprenticeships represent the best way to pass on the acquired knowledge of working trade professionals with 30 years of experience to the next generation of workers,” Simeone said. “All companies in manufacturing should actively take part in training apprentices to guarantee a good future for their companies and our industry.”

The Manufacturing Apprenticeship Accelerator will also connect local manufacturers with additional support through Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship selected JFF as a national apprenticeship intermediary to drive and accelerate the expansion of registered apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing.

JFF offers manufacturers free coaching, technical assistance and incentive funding to build a diverse, skilled pipeline of workers for careers in advanced manufacturing.

The Manufacturing Apprenticeship Accelerator will complement a broad array of programs that Cook County Government is supporting. The county groups all of its manufacturing programs under the moniker of M3—which stands for Metro, Manufacturing, Momentum and works to support and unite the region’s manufacturing ecosystem.  

For more information, visit the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development website.


About Cook County

Cook County is the second-largest county in the United States, representing 5.2 million residents in Illinois. The President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Cook County and oversees the Offices Under the President (OUP), which includes the Bureau of Economic Development (BED). Learn more at

About Skills for Chicagoland’s Future

Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, founded in 2012, is a Chicago-based nonprofit that removes barriers to employment by eliminating biases that disqualify candidates unnecessarily. Working with local and global companies, Skills brings opportunities to neighborhoods and municipalities throughout the Chicagoland area. For more information, visit


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