The Chicago Women in Trades is looking to expand its pre-apprenticeship program in Illinois to recruit more women into the trade industry. The program focuses on promoting women in the trades and recently received a $9.6 million grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity A 2020 report from the Illinois Department of Labor reported that only four percent of Illinois apprentices are women and only 29 percent are people of color.
With an overrepresented number of women of color in service jobs with little to no room for advancement, a career in the trade industry can offer women a living wage and a chance to grow. Potential apprentices must be over 18 with a driver’s license and high school diploma, or GED.
“We really want to prepare women to get into union apprenticeship programs, particularly more women of color, because we’re finding less women of color are entering these fields. This program will allow women to get hands-on experience. They’ll spend a week with a carpenter, or a week with a bricklayer, or an electrician,”.
Sharon Latson-Flemister, Chicago Women In Trades Director of Marketing and Communications.
Following ten completed weeks of apprenticeship, participants are then encouraged to apply for open apprenticeships, which open once a quarter. Chicago Women in Trades offers assistance with application fees and tools and participants will also receive a $10/hour stipend to help with transportation costs. Participants can then increase their pay to $19/hour and by the time they attain journey level, they will become full tradeswomen capable of earning $60/hour.
The Chicago Women In Trades has also partnered with the Englewood Women’s Initiative which offers mental health support and homelessness programs to improve a participant’s chance of completing the program. Many past participants who have successfully completed the apprenticeship then come back and return to become instructors or mentors in the program.