Ten construction industry employers, three Chicago-area not-for-profit organizations, and ComEd joined forces today to announce a new Construction Jobs Educational Pilot Program to provide candidates interested in construction fields with the training, information and guidance needed to compete for good-paying, entry-level jobs in construction-related fields.
ComEd, Aldridge, Asplundh, HBK Engineering, Intren, Lindblad Construction, Meade, M.J. Electric, Primera, PSC, and USIC have come together in an unprecedented move to support this effort, which will be run in parallel at three sites across the Chicagoland area by Bethel New Life, Chicago Urban League, and the National Latino Education Institute.
The pilot is designed to address the construction industry’s overall need to increase the pool of qualified minority candidates for construction jobs in Illinois. The pilot aims to provide 30 participants with career guidance, life skills training, and practical education about the construction industry, as well as the requirements for entering this industry. Each of the participating companies will also provide multi-day job shadowing experiences.
“This program provides access to affordable training to prepare candidates for construction career opportunities,” said Fidel Marquez, senior vice president, governmental and external affairs, ComEd. “At ComEd, we are committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the communities we serve. Through this program, and working collaboratively with our partners, we can make a real difference in these communities.”
The 11-week pilot, which is expected to launch this summer, will help participants develop the core competencies required in the industry, strengthen job readiness and life skills, and prepare for industry-required testing that is often a prerequisite for employment. It also includes job shadowing to give candidates an up-close look at the various career paths available. The agencies, using experienced trainers, will run the classes at their facilities, provide individual job counseling and guidance, and work with enrollees on job placement opportunities.
“I know from my own experience what can happen when persistence and determination meet opportunity,” said Loretta Rosenmayer, owner and CEO of Intren. “We have a chance to help build excellence in our industry through diversity, and I applaud all of the companies who have willingly stepped up to show their support.”
IBEW locals have also voiced their support.
The agencies will help identify and train the program participants using various common eligibility and completion requirements, and are committed to working with each of the participants in the pilot to provide job counseling and placement services.
“The call for jobs is loud and strong, in my community, and in communities across this city,” said local Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd). “Today’s announcement gives hope that the issue is being taken seriously.”
For some legislative leaders in Illinois, this collaboration is a significant step toward facing an issue for which progress has been slow.
“I cannot recall when there has been such a broad coalition with construction companies, agencies, labor unions and a utility willing to stand and use their collective voice to effect change in this way,” said Illinois State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), co-chairman of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus. “This is a meaningful action on behalf of individuals who need greater access to opportunity so that they can build their own lives.”
“There is no law, no mandate, that addresses the challenges we face in trying to help individuals in underserved communities get the kinds of jobs that will provide them with the kind of livelihood that can truly help them and their families,” said Illinois State Representative Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Westchester). “What we see in the formation of this group is a collective recognition not only that change can happen, but must happen.”
To complete the pilot program, participants must attend at least 95 percent of all full class days and have taken select tests, among other things. Upon completion of the pilot program, participants can choose any number of career paths, from applying to work with the participating companies and satisfying any applicable union requirements, to applying to ComEd or employers in other sectors.
While completion of the pilot does not guarantee a job, individuals who complete the program successfully are expected to be more qualified, knowledgeable, and ready to compete for construction jobs in Illinois.
Additional information about this program will be available at a later date.