Illinois launches pre-apprenticeship program for climate-related fields

By ELIZABETH DONALD
Illinois Correspondent

ILLINOIS’S CLIMATE WORKS Pre-Apprenticeship Program seeks link underrepresented workers and communities with clean energy employers in the construction and building trades. – Illinois Climate Works photo

Weeks after bolstering support for pre-apprenticeship programs in the construction trades, Illinois is launching another program to promote pre-apprenticeships in climate-related fields.

Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced $10 million in funding for the Climate Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program and $6 million for the Energy Transition Barrier Reduction Program. The programs are intended to increase training opportunities in the trades and expand opportunities and diversity in clean energy.

UNDERREPRESENTED WORKERS, COMMUNITIES
The pre-apprenticeship program will prioritize underrepresented worker populations and communities facing economic and environmental barriers, according to the state announcement. Climate Works will also help provide services for participants addressing common barriers, including transportation, child care and supplies.

“Economic progress in Illinois depends on our diverse workforce, and these investments will break down barriers for more women and people of color to pave the way with good-paying careers that will push our state toward a carbon-free future,” Pritzker said. “The strategic investments we make today in our clean energy workforce will have a lasting impact for generations to come.”

CLEAN ENERGY EMPLOYERS
Climate Works will align the needs of clean energy employers in construction and building trades, provide students with nationally recognized certifications, and provide access to apprenticeships in renewable energy, electrification and energy efficiency industries, as well as educational and career counseling.

Three regional centers will recruit, prescreen and provide training free of charge with a stipend, including one for southern Illinois. The training will implement a construction and clean energy basics curriculum to provide training, certification preparation, job readiness, and skill development, including soft skills, math skills, technical skills, certification test preparation, and other development needed to program participants.

500-700 PRE-APPRENTICES EXPECTED IN FIRST YEAR
Approximately 500-700 pre-apprentices are expected to enroll in the first year, with capacity increases projected. Individuals who face barriers to employment are encouraged to apply, including women, people of color, veterans, people from underrepresented populations, those who graduated from the foster care system or were formerly incarcerated.

“The future of Illinois is bright as we work toward creating jobs that will contribute to a robust economy, while building a clean energy environment that benefits all communities,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “This pre-apprenticeship program seeks out and shapes talent, and addresses their needs equitably so they are set up for success. This is how we uplift communities to access the opportunities to thrive.”

Pritzker proposed a number of jobs programs in his State of the State address, including $25 million for Illinois Works to advance diversity in trades hiring, $10 million for high school vocational training, $1 million for data center operator training, and $20 million in grants to recruit, train and upskill workers for job openings.

For more information on Climate Works, visit https://dceo.illinois.gov/climateandequitablejobs/climate-works-pre-apprenticeship-program.


 

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