PEORIA — The head of the city of Peoria’s job-training program is calling it quits after holding the position for 25 years, Workforce Network announced Thursday.
But Bashir Ali’s retirement this week doesn’t mean he will stop working on issues with Workforce Network or its successor coalition being put together now that the city is stepping back from its role coordinating the group that helps people gain new skills to seek new jobs.
Ali and his deputy, Paula Nachtrieb, who also is retiring, will continue to work as consultants for the evolving workforce system until Dec. 31 and be paid on a contract basis for doing so as they work to help set up the new Central Illinois Workforce Development Consortium.
That entity will likewise serve Peoria, Woodford, Stark and Marshall counties, though with those counties in the driver’s seat - alongside a board of public- and private-sector officials - rather than the city.
The goal, Nachtrieb said, is “to become more of a regional footprint.” The new entity also has the benefit of being able to pull in dollars from multiple different sources - not just from federal and state grant funding passed through the supervising governments, but also from charitable donations “since federal dollars are drying up,” she said.
The Workforce Network system serves more than 25,000 individuals and more than 200 area businesses each year.
Ali submitted his notice of resignation to city staff on Sept. 26. He plans to retire under the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund’s Early Retirement Incentive program that allows long-serving staff a chance to retire and begin to draw pension benefits early, though with some tradeoffs attached.
Weeks after submitting that retirement notice to city staff, Ali was tapped by the board overseeing the creation of the new Central Illinois Workforce Development Consortium to serve as that group’s president.
He assumed that position on Oct. 17, though Nachtrieb emphasized that the intent is that she and Ali will stay on board through Dec. 31 to set up the group, following which “we’ve got some really talented people there right now to help take the reins.”