The state of Illinois and the Internet of Things Talent Consortium (IoTTC) announced a partnership April 20 geared toward making sure the state has educational resources it needs to build the workforce of the future.

Under the terms of the newly formed partnership, the consortium will supply skills-based curricula in areas like data science based on the Microsoft Professional Program. Officials are hopeful the infusion will help to bolster the state’s talent pipeline and grow Illinois' smart state initiatives.

The consortium consists of a collection of technology industry partners, including Cisco, General Electric and Microsoft.

"Illinois' partnership with the IoT Talent Consortium supports our commitment to building and growing a strong digital economy. These courses will help train our workforce to prepare them for jobs of the future and bring jobs back to Illinois," Deputy Gov. Leslie Munger said in a press release.

State CIO Hardik Bhatt has long talked about making Illinois the first smart state using tools like IoT, international partnerships and consolidated government to make smarter decisions and drive responsive operations.

The IoTTC estimates that by 2018, there could be a talent shortage of as many as 1.5 million data analysts.

"Our partnership with the IoT Talent Consortium will strengthen efforts to grow Illinois' digital economy,” Bhatt said in the release. “As we expand innovation and technology in our state, it is crucial to also build a workforce to support those initiatives. Training programs, such as this one, will build our pool of technical talent in Illinois."

Through the self-paced program, designed to be completed in between 16 and 32 hours, students are able to earn certifications in data science techniques and applications.