Eligibility & Enrollment

The Upward Mobility Program is open to certified AFSCME-represented employees who are interested in career advancement in targeted job titles. Employees also must have completed their six-month probationary period with the State. Employees who aren't sure whether or not they are eligible should contact their personnel officer.

The designated month(s) during which employees register for the program are determined by the Upward Mobility Advisory Committee. When a registration period opens, the Upward Mobility Program automatically sends a registration form to eligible employees who have never enrolled in the program. Completed registration forms must be returned to the Upward Mobility Program office by the last day of the registration period. Late registration forms and forms submitted during non-registration periods will be kept on file until the next registration period.

Following the registration period, eligible employees are sent letters acknowledging receipt of their registration form and formally accepting them into the program. At this time they are assigned a career counselor who assists in identifying an appropriate job title and career path. Counselors also help employees develop an education plan, specifying the necessary coursework to be completed and identifying sources where the course work may be available.

Participants pursuing a college degree must sign a work commitment of two years in state service after the date of their last class. Employees who voluntarily leave state service without fulfilling this commitment must reimburse tuition and fees paid by Upward Mobility at an annual 7% interest rate. Unpaid amounts will be referred to a collection agency.

An employee who does not enroll in a course or take a proficiency exam for nine months is sent a letter asking them if they want to participate in the Program. If they remain inactive for nine additional months they will be withdrawn from the program.


The Upward Mobility Program is part of the master agreement between AFSCME and the State of Illinois. It is a career mobility program designed to give state employees an opportunity to advance to more challenging, higher paying positions. Employees can work toward advancement in five major career paths: Data Processing, Office Services, Accounting, Human Services, and Medical. Participants complete educational programs designed to provide them with the skills and knowledge needed for advancement.


Counselors meet with eligible employees at their work sites to identify a "target title" and to develop individualized education plans. For Certificate Titles, employees must first take a test, then take classes for areas in which they are not proficient. For Credential Titles, employees must obtain a specific degree or license.* Once all requirements are met, employees receive an Upward Mobility certificate and are placed on a separate eligibility list, which gives them special consideration in the filling of vacancies.


  • An individual education plan helps people advance to higher paying, more challenging positions.
  • Testing and education are tied directly to the target titles, assisting employees' eventual promotion into these titles.
  • When funds are available, covered tuition and fees are paid directly to the schools by the State of Illinois.
  • An Upward Mobility certificate gives an employee priority for the next vacancy in that title in any agency, even if the title is in another bargaining unit or is a non-bargaining unit position. In accordance with contract provisions, when more than one employee is eligible through Upward Mobility, seniority prevails in the filling of vacancies.
  • Employees have paid time off to meet with their Upward Mobility counselor or take a proficiency test, and partial time off to attend classes when necessary.
*Employees who target a Credential Title on or after July 1, 1994, must fulfill a work commitment of two years in state service. Employees who voluntarily leave state service without fulfilling this commitment must reimburse tuition and fees paid by Upward Mobility toward the credential title.