A lifelong resident of Joliet, Caroline Portlock said she looks forward to helping local business grow in her new role as director of the Will County Workforce Investment Board. She is assuming the position Pat Fera held for nearly 17 years.
“I am proud to join the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and lend some of my experience to keep Will County at the forefront,” Portlock said.
Will County Executive Larry Walsh, who oversees the WIB, said Portlock is a great addition to this program.
“Caroline has a long history in workforce development and a great knowledge of Will County,” Walsh said. “Pat has done an extraordinary job with our Workforce Investment Board. She has been a pioneer in building great relationships across all sectors of business in Will County. Pat is leaving some big shoes to fill but I have no doubt that Caroline will be up to the task.”
Portlock’s history in workforce and business development comes from her previous roles as Director of Workforce Development with Joliet Junior College and President and CEO of the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce where she was responsible for many similar duties.
“The primary role of the WIB is to use federal dollars to help people who are unemployed or underemployed in our county,” she said. “The board works to set policies to identify sectors of employment growth and identify training opportunities in these sectors. In this fast changing world of employment, trends are changing all the time.”
Portlock said during her experience, the main trend change in employment is the shift in “job changing”. In today’s job market, people often change jobs or even careers more frequently.
“Years ago, your mom or dad would have maybe one or two jobs throughout their entire lifetime. Now there is so much competition, people are moving into different jobs or retraining for a new career all the time.”
The growth in Will County over the past ten years has presented many opportunities but also some challenges for businesses, Portlock said. And she has seen a definite move in available jobs in different employment sectors. She said one challenge is ensuring the workforce of Will County is prepared for additional growth.”
“Will County used to be known mostly for its farming but now as North America’s largest inland port, we see many more employment opportunities in transportation and logistics. We are also seeing more jobs in professional services such as Information Technology and Project Management. Will County has become home to large corporations who recognize the potential here.”
Portlock is following the path Fera maintained in keeping workforce services in the forefront. And she said she wants to continue to provide and support these robust business services already established.
“Pat has 17 years of knowledge that I am trying to absorb,” said Portlock. “Pat basically built up the Workforce Investment Board to what it is today. It is a well-oiled machine and I want to keep this momentum going.
“I am happy to be back home (working) in Will County. I appreciate the cooperation in this region. We are successful because we know how to come together as a region and have a good relationship with everyone at the table.”