FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1/27/2022

 Governor Pritzker Kicks Off ‘Illinois Works’ Pre-Apprenticeship Program to Prepare Students for Jobs in the Construction Trades

Community Organizations Begin Recruiting and Preparing to Launch Pre-Apprenticeship Programs as Part of $10 Million Investment in ‘Illinois Works’ Program

CHICAGO – Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today joined partner organization Rebuilding Exchange to discuss the Illinois Works pre-apprenticeship program. Earlier this month, Gov. Pritzker announced a nearly $10 million investment in pre-apprenticeship programs through to benefit more than 1,000 participants through 23 partner organizations. Grantees are currently in the process of recruiting diverse participants and making preparations to launch programming. Illinois Works is a groundbreaking program designed to create a qualified talent pipeline in the construction trades while leveling the playing field for underrepresented populations, including women and people of color.

"The Illinois Works program aims to help break barriers for more people of color to take advantage of the thousands of jobs created by our infrastructure investments, while simultaneously creating a sustainable pipeline of qualified workers," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Earlier this month, my administration announced a $9.6 million to do just that – supporting wrap-around pre-apprenticeship programs that help workers turn aspirations into apprenticeships, and in turn, careers."

"This program is about equity and opportunity, about preparing people from every community for in-demand careers in the growing field of construction," said Lt. Governor Stratton. "Our administration continues to invest in people as we utilize the historic Rebuild Illinois capital plan to create jobs and invest in vital projects throughout the state."

As part of the program kick-off, Governor Pritzker and Acting DCEO Director, Sylvia Garcia, visited Rebuilding Exchange, a non-profit organization participating in the program. Their training provides hands-on skills and wrap around services that will help participants qualify for a Department of Labor registered apprenticeships. The Bucktown location is actively recruiting a diverse cohort and expects to launch its Illinois Works Pre-apprenticeship programming in the coming weeks.

"DCEO is committed to strengthening the construction industry by creating a diverse talent pipeline," said Acting Director of DCEO, Sylvia I. Garcia. "The Illinois Works pre-apprenticeship program, helps Illinoisans who have traditionally been underrepresented in the construction and building trades get their start in the industry."

Comprehensive pre-apprenticeship programs can help participants gain admission to apprenticeship programs, which provide a greater opportunity to obtain employment in the construction trades. The $9.6 million training program is funded by the Illinois Works Jobs Program Act as part of Rebuild Illinois which is working to provide more Illinois residents access to jobs created by State capital projects.

"The Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program is not only an effort to grow a talent pipeline in the construction trades. It is also more broadly to build a community that is grounded in equity and sustainability, that values every person and believes in their ability to succeed," said Aina Gutierrez, Executive Director, Rebuilding Exchange. "The Rebuilding Exchange is thrilled to be a part of this program that will result in a more diverse construction trades workforce, stronger local economy, and more Illinois residents working in family sustaining careers."

"The Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship program coming to the Rebuilding Exchange in Bucktown is a perfect example of how the State of Illinois can leverage dollars to revitalize our workforce" said Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago). "We need more people of color and more women to have access to the building trades, and I know this will make a real impact not only on the individuals engaged in the program, but families and communities as well."

"I am pleased that nearly two dozen organizations received funding for pre-apprenticeship programs, which provide a pathway for good-paying jobs," said Rep. Will Davis (D-Harvey). "More workforce organizations than ever are getting the support needed to recruit and train Black men and women for careers in the building trades."

Programs will provide technical instruction and industry-recognized certifications and will include transition services to help participants enroll in Department of Labor (DOL) registered-apprenticeship programs. All programs also include stipends for participants in the program, wraparound services, and a workplace experience that provides them with hands-on exposure to construction job sites. 

Additional programs are located in counties across the state including Cook, Macon, St. Clair, Tazewell and Winnebago.   To learn more about Illinois Works and to find a pre-apprenticeship training location, please visit DCEO's website. 

Organizations selected for grants include:

Bethel Family Resource Center, Chicago Heights                                   $400,000
Chicago Women in Trades, Chicago                                                           $500,437
Children First Fund, Chicago                                                                       $250,000
Community Assistance Programs, Chicago                                               $493,794
Community Development Institute, Chicago                                           $500,000
EDDR Foundation Chicago, Chicago                                                          $500,000
EDDR Foundation Rockford, Rockford                                                     $400,000
HIRE 360, Chicago                                                                                         $550,000
Hispanic American Construction Industry Association, Chicago        $500,000
IL Foundation of SkillsUSA-VICA, Pekin                                                  $500,000
Lumity, Chicago                                                                                              $170,673
Macon County, Decatur                                                                                 $499,832
Metropolitan Family Services, Chicago                                                      $500,000
Quad County Urban League, Aurora                                                          $397,978
Rebuilding Exchange                                                                                  $535,514
Revolution Workshop, Chicago                                                                   $400,777
Safer Foundation, Chicago                                                                            $500,000
Sista Girls & Friends, Inc, Decatur                                                              $500,000
South Suburban Community Services, South Holland                           $436,000
Southwestern Illinois College, Belleville                                                    $240,000
St. Paul Church of God in Christ Community Ministries, Chicago      $250,000
Tools Up Foundation, Chicago                                                                     $326,587
YBLC, Inc, North Chicago                                                                             $250,000 

For more information on Illinois Works, please visit DCEO's website