The new ConstructionWorks workforce training and careers program is ready to begin serving job seekers at 18 sites in Cook County, DuPage County, Chicago, Rockford, Aurora and Waukegan.
Illinois Tollway Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom and Executive Director Liz Gorman announced the program earlier this month. They were joined by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and state transportation leaders Sen. Martin Sandoval and Rep. Marcus Evans for the program’s launch.
“We are marking the official start of ConstructionWorks to create a pipeline of qualified diverse men and women ready for careers in the heavy highway and related construction industries,” according to Schillerstrom. “ConstructionWorks will provide more than just job opportunities – it will allow workers to support their families, send their kids to college and build a better future for themselves.”
ConstructionWorks will provide free pre-apprenticeship training and support services to underemployed and disenfranchised individuals seeking training and career opportunities in the highway construction industry, including members of minority groups, women and veterans.
It’s being administered by the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, which was created in 2012 through combined city and county resources. It’s intended to broaden the reach and impact of workforce services for employers and job seekers.
ConstructionWorks is expected to train and place at least 150 individuals in apprenticeship and training programs or advance participation within the skilled trades during an initial three-year term, with an emphasis on heavy highway skilled construction trades.
New workers, including laborers, equipment operators, carpenters, electricians, iron workers, cement masons and others within the critical heavy-highway construction industry are needed to work on construction projects as part of the tollway’s 15-year, $14 billion Move Illinois capital program, as well as other capital projects advanced by Cook County, the Illinois Department of Transportation and transit agencies.
“As legislators, we always strive to expand access to opportunities for diverse communities. I applaud the leadership from the tollway for their commitment to do just that,” says Illinois Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Martin Sandoval. “ConstructionWorks is a great example of what’s possible when the public and private sectors work together to accomplish great things for the people of Illinois.”
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle also applauded the Illinois Tollway for championing this effort “in an industry that has been historically biased against minorities, especially women and people of color.”
Illinois House Transportation Committee Chairman Marcus Evans agreed, urging those seeking a rewarding career to get started with the ConstructionWorks program today.
Under the tollway’s $4.2 million contract, a press release says, the Partnership is managing a consortium of 18 service providers and affiliated agencies to provide a range of services on behalf of the tollway. They include recruiting eligible participants, conducting pre-apprenticeship training and providing ongoing assistance with career coaches and support services. Eligibility is determined by federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act standards.
“I believe very strongly that every single person deserves access to world-class careers, skills training and job opportunities,” comments Karin M. Norington-Reaves, CEO of The Partnership.
The Partnership will help identify and directly place underemployed construction industry workers and trainees in meaningful construction industry opportunities, such as U.S. Department of Labor-approved apprenticeships and training programs. In addition, ConstructionWorks will also assist qualified individuals seeking to move into more highly-skilled trades through referrals to basic skills and adult education resources.
Free services for job seekers will career coach assistance to assess abilities and interests, develop career and skills training plans and provide ongoing retention support. Access to support services for trainees will include assistance with transportation, child care, counseling services, as well as basic skills and adult education referrals.
As the largest non-profit managed Local Workforce Investment Area (LWIA) in the United States, The Partnership encompasses the city of Chicago and more than 132 other municipalities. The Partnership provides the training, business services, career coaching and data analysis necessary to connect construction job seekers with career and employment opportunities on projects throughout the region, and especially the tollway.
The Illinois Tollway is a user-fee system that receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations. The agency maintains and operates 294 miles of roadways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois.