After years of misconception surrounding African Americans’ access to joining Chicago’s construction labor unions, the Chicago & Cook County Building & Construction Trades Council, Construction Industry Service Corporation (CISCO) and St. Paul Community Development Ministries, Inc. (SPCDM) have formed a partnership to recruit black men and women with the desire to secure union construction jobs. Within the next several years, the demand for labor in the construction industry is projected to increase with reliable long-term work projections of 10 to 15 years. According to Pastor Kevin Anthony Ford, President of SPCDM, “This is the time to step up to opportunity…the future is bright!”
SPCDM’s pre-apprentice training program, helps men and women prepare themselves to pass the exam required to enter the U. S. Department of Labor registered apprentice programs. The Chicago & Cook County Building & Construction Trades Council, CISCO and local construction companies assist the program with teachers and mentors from the industry who provide field, theoretical, and practical equations to the classroom experience. Upon completion of its program, SPCDM’s students have increased their opportunity to score in the upper 5% on the entrance exam and advance to earn long-term careers in construction after their apprenticeships.
“This is a great opportunity for young African American men and women to earn meaningful, long-term careers through debt-free training and mentoring,” said Ralph Affrunti, President of the Chicago & Cook County Building & Construction Trades Council. “The building trades should be representative of our diverse city, and we are excited to rebuild the bridge between our unions and Chicago’s African American community.”
Local companies such as W.E. O’Neil Construction are enthusiastic about the partnership and have already hired numerous candidates who have come up through SPCDM’s pre-apprentice program.