Mayor Lightfoot and CPS Launch Citywide Skilled Trades Career Fair
Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Pedro Martinez announced a three-day skilled trades career fair. Over three days, approximately 3,000 CPS students will have the opportunity to learn about careers from more than 50 local employers, unions and employment agencies.
The Trades Career Fair kicks off at the McCormick Place Convention Center, Lakeside Center, Tuesday, March 22, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is open only to CPS students for the three-day event, ending Thursday, March 24. The fair is only open to the media on Tuesday 22 March. The event is co-hosted by the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) and the Community Safety Coordination Center (CSCC). The goal of the job fair is to expose and connect students at risk of disconnecting from work and school upon graduation with the information and tools needed to explore a career in the skilled trades.
“Everywhere you look you can see how skilled trades and union labor have influenced and built our strong city,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “The skilled trades and their unions are essential to the functioning of our communities. Plus, they are well-paying, long-lasting careers that provide pathways to financial security and job satisfaction. I am happy to introduce our CPS students to these opportunities and all the career possibilities that this sector holds.
CPS currently offers 12 vocational and technical education (CTE) programs in construction trades across the city. Eight programs are housed in high schools, and one program, Chicago Builds, is a citywide program that provides carpentry, welding, HVAC, and electrical training to any junior or senior CPS. All programs provide two to three years of construction skills development, literacy and math skills, and integrated employability skills. Students can participate in work-based learning opportunities throughout the program, beginning with guest speakers and site visits and ending with internships and possibly youth apprenticeships. CPS students from all 12 CTE programs will showcase their work at the Skilled Trades Fair.
“This fair is a great opportunity for our students to learn how to apply basic educational skills to a skilled trade,” said Pedro Martinez, CEO of Chicago Public Schools. “We want students to not only learn how they can enter these fields, but to grow and grow as experts and leaders, bringing that Chicago perspective to these important and satisfying careers.”
The majority of students attending the career fair are students traditionally underrepresented in the skilled trades. In its outreach, the City has prioritized schools on the south and west sides to ensure that students living in communities with higher rates of poverty and unemployment have access to career opportunities. This includes students who have or are currently participating in the Chicago Public Schools Choose to Change program, students in option schools, and those who have experienced other risk factors.
“I have dedicated my career to helping the next generation of artisans DEVELOP their skills and our future. Events like the Skilled Trades Fair show me that the city is coming together for the same cause, and I love that,” said Othoniel (Tony) Negron, instructor at Chicago Builds, a city-wide building program. town.
According to data from the UChicago Urban Lab, Options students face extraordinarily high rates of barriers to completing their studies, including high rates of homelessness and violent victimization. Students in option schools are more likely than students in non-option schools to live in low-income households (84% versus 76%, as measured by their free and reduced lunch status), to be homeless ( 21% vs. 4%), have Individual Education Plans (IEPs) (21% vs. 16%), experienced serious disciplinary incidents at school in the past year (13% vs. 5%), have been the victim of a crime (38% vs. 12%), and have at least one prior arrest recorded in Chicago Police Department data (38% vs. 3%).
Young adults who continue their education or who have access to long-term employment opportunities have a reduced risk of being involved in violence. Additionally, providing access to viable career paths for people with a criminal justice background, who have a high rate of school absenteeism, or who have a history of group involvement can reduce their risk of violent victimization.
“Career development and exploration are key to charting a path to success for our young people. This is a chance for young people in our city to imagine these new possibilities,” said DFSS Commissioner Brandie Knazze. “The Skilled Trades Fair lays the groundwork for creating opportunities and will provide young people with the space to identify how their knowledge, skills and interests can be harnessed.”
This job fair is not only an opportunity for students to meet experts from various industries, but also an opportunity for students to learn how they can bring diverse cultural backgrounds, languages and experiences to strengthen the workforce- work. Regardless of where people live or the color of their skin, the skilled trades are a field in which everyone can excel, and we need more Black and Latinx women and young people in the trades to strengthen these areas and accelerate Chicago’s economic growth.
Students will have the opportunity to provide their contact information to industries at the trade show and staff from CPS and Chicago Community Colleges will be on hand to help students create a post-secondary plan. Participating students will receive a digital and paper event guide, complete with career information.
“There are many paths to successful careers. This event creates an opportunity for young people to navigate the diverse post-secondary opportunities our city has to offer through trades and good union jobs,” said Alderman Sophia King. “This initiative will help our young people see what they can accomplish.
More than 71,000 people currently work in the construction industry in Cook County alone. This sector includes welders, plumbers, carpenters, etc. Moreover, the skilled trades are a mobile group capable of applying entrepreneurial thinking, earning above-average salaries, and increasing wages and incomes as skills develop. Tradespeople are essential to an industry that helps cities like Chicago thrive.
“This event provides students with insight into the many different career paths within the union building industry,” said Dan Allen, Construction Industry Service Corporation (CISCO). “Skilled trades allow you to ‘earn while you learn’, graduate with almost or completely debt-free, receive excellent benefits, and secure a path to the middle class. Between the groundbreaking construction megaprojects in the Chicago 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 Skilled Trades Careers 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 education. experience – which represents an opportunity for students who choose not to go to college to gain access to well-paying jobs. Ensuring that all Chicagoans have equal access to a career in the skilled trades is essential.
“Creating a strong and diverse talent pool is critical to the work we do at ComEd and will play a key role in building cleaner, more resilient communities for the future,” said ComEd CEO Gil Quinions. “Through our collaboration with CPS, the City of Chicago and a number of local workforce agencies, ComEd is working to create pathways to well-paying careers, while ensuring that more minorities and women can participate in the growth of our industry. We encourage Chicago students to attend this year’s career fair and explore opportunities with our team where they will impact their community and the environment for years to come.
ComEd presents the largest employer stand during the three-day event. ComEd supports hundreds of Chicago students each year with education programs as part of its efforts to foster a strong, diverse workforce ready to take on new jobs created by the energy-saving transition own. 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 the opportunity to receive technical training in electrical and other areas of skilled trades. To learn more about Chicago Builds, as well as its training and scholarship programs, please visit the ComEd website.
“I’m so grateful to be able to be where I am today, few high school students have opportunities like this, so I want to take advantage of it. I strongly believe that the Skilled Trades Career Fair can change the lives of students,” said Quintin Scott, a current CPS student and participant in the Chicago Builds Program, a citywide building program.
Today’s tradespeople are innovators and entrepreneurs, creators and dreamers. Trades are essential to our economic prosperity and to our daily lives. For a full list of exhibitors and to learn more about this event, please click here.