Chicago church works to train more black residents for construction jobs

Updated Aug 13, 2015
A student at the job fair is interviewed by CBS 2.A student at the job fair is interviewed by CBS 2.

The Psalmist wrote, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” In Chicago, a South Side church is working to bear those words out.

In the parking lot of St. Paul Church of God and Christ earlier this month, people learned to lay bricks and cut drywall at a job fair hosted by the church in the hope of giving black Chicagoans the necessary skills and training needed to secure jobs in the region’s construction industry, according to report by CBS 2.

The fair was open to a variety of construction jobs, including pipefitters and operating engineers which were represented by 22 labor unions.

The city is in the middle of quite the building boom, with cranes and active jobsites all along the Chicago River and elsewhere. That means more jobs for those willing to do the work. However, many black residents of the city feel they are excluded from these positions, despite the high demand.

But construction executive Dan Allen told CBS he wants to change that idea. He says that unions are open and eager to teach minority men and women how to do construction work. “We have a talent pool here which is going to be the next generation of people building our infrastructure in the city,” he said.

The church is providing an apprentice program that includes classroom instruction and on-the-job training upon being accepted into the program.