QUINCY -- A new program involving several area agencies and local governments seeks to help certain people on probation find gainful employment.
Dubbed the Adams County Employment Redirect, the program provides job training for people who are on probation for nonviolent offenses. People in the inaugural group of the program would enroll in John Wood Community College's certified production technician program.
A group of about seven people attended orientation for the program Monday at the Quincy Workforce Center to meet with stakeholders from JWCC, Adams County, the Illinois Department of Employment Security and the Two Rivers Regional Council of Public Officials.
Each person in the program was recommended by their probation officer.
Jim Fuhrman, manager of the manufacturing and technical programs at JWCC, said instructors will work with the students to succeed and find employment regardless of their background.
"Just because you've got a bad past does not mean you will not excel in this program," Fuhrman said. "I have a student who went through prison, was strung out -- he showed me pictures of himself -- and he looked really bad. But he changed his life.
"He went through these programs, and now companies will literally fight for him. This guy can go anywhere he wants to and make any dollar he wants to."
As part of the program, everyone will be required to participate in soft skills workshops on resume and interviewing skills.
After completing the certificate program, students can pursue additional coursework that can leads to a precision machinist certification and an associate degree in manufacturing technology.
"We've got companies looking for people to hire in Quincy," Fuhrman said. "These are good jobs."
Jeremy Oshner, director of workforce development for Two Rivers Regional Council of Public Officials, said the costs for the program could be covered through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which will be used for vocational training, job placement services, child care and transportation.
"Basically anything that might be a barrier to finishing your program we can help with, or we'll connect you with the individuals who can," Oshner said. "We don't want you to have any reason to not be able to start and finish the program."
Adams County State's Attorney Gary Farha said the goal of the program is to help get people on probation obtain head-of-household jobs.
"We've been working on this for a long time, and it's had a myriad of problems," Farha said. "But we're all now on the same page, and we're all wanting the one thing -- for you guys to be successful and to get good head-of-household jobs.
"That's going to help you with your recovery if you have any substance abuse issues. It's going to help you with life in general."
Farha said the job training program is something seen more today in the justice system.
"It's no longer about seeing how many people we can send to prison," he said.