Chicago Public Schools Skills Trade Fair
Approximately 3,000 High Schoolers and Middle Schoolers Met Labor Unions and 50+ Skilled Trade Exhibitors
Chicago Public Schools held a "Skilled Trades Career Fair" at McCormick Place in March as an opportunity for students to meet experts in various industries and learn how they can bring diverse cultural backgrounds, languages, and experiences to strengthen the workforce. Regardless of where people live or ethnic backgrounds, skilled trades are a field where anyone can excel. We need more diverse young people in the trades industry to strengthen these fields and accelerate Chicago's economic growth. Students had an opportunity to speak directly with Local 15 members and other Local Unions throughout Chicago and provide their contact information to industries at the trades fair. CPS and Chicago Community Colleges staff were on hand to help students create a post-secondary plan. Participating students received a digital and hardcopy event guidebook, complete with information about the trades." There are many pathways to successful careers. This event creates an opportunity for youth to navigate the various post-secondary possibilities our city has to offer through the trades and good union jobs," said Alderman Sophia King. "This initiative will help our youth see what they can achieve."
There are more than 71,000 people currently working in the construction sector in Cook County alone. This sector includes welders, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and more. Further, the skilled trades are a mobile group with the ability to apply entrepreneurial thinking, earn above-average wages, and grow wages and income as skills build. Tradespeople are fundamental to an industry that helps cities like Chicago prosper.
"This event provides students with knowledge relating to the many different career paths within the union constitution industry," said Dan Allen, Construction Industry Service Corporation (CISCO).
"The skilled trades allow you to earn while you learn", graduate nearly or completely debt-free, receive excellent benefits, and secure a path to the middle class. Between the groundbreaking of mega construction projects within the Chicagoland area and the industry's increased demand for skilled workers, CPS students have a unique opportunity to pursue fulfilling careers within the union construction industry."
Most careers in the skilled trades require an apprenticeship or may not require a college degree — of the 15,000 jobs currently listed in Cook County, half of them require less than a bachelor's degree, and 85% of them require less than 5 years of experience — representing an opportunity for students who choose not to go to college to have access to jobs that are well-paid.
It's critical to ensure all Chicagoans have equal access to a career in the skilled trades. "Building a strong and diverse talent pipeline is essential to the work we do at ComEd and will play a key role in powering cleaner and more resilient communities for the future," said ComEd CEO Gil Quiniones. "Through our collaboration with CPS, the City of Chicago, and a number of local work force agencies, ComEd is working to create pathways to well-paying careers while ensuring that more minorities and women can be a part of the growth of our industry. We encourage Chicago's students to attend this year's career fair and learn about opportunities with our team where they'll make an impact on their community and the environment for years to come."
ComEd and Local 15 members presented the largest employer booth during the three-day event. ComEd supports hundreds of students from across Chicago with education programs to foster a strong and diverse workforce prepared to take on new jobs created by the transition to a clean energy economy. As part of its investments in workforce development, ComEd is proud to support Chicago Builds, a unique 2-year off-campus program offering CPS juniors and seniors an opportunity to receive technical training in electricity and other skilled trades fields. "I'm so grateful to be where I am today, not many high school students get opportunities like this, so I want to take advantage of it. I strongly believe that the Skilled Trades Career Fair can be life-changing for students," said Quintin Scott, a current CPS student and participant in the Chicago Builds Program, a city-wide construction program. Today's tradespeople are innovators and entrepreneurs, creators, and dreamers. The trades are foundational to our economic prosperity and our everyday lives.