CHICAGO – Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Acting Director David Vaught, Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) Director Erica Borggren, and Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) Director Jay Rowell today joined the Utility Workers of America (UWUA), Peoples Gas and City Colleges of Chicago to launch a new “training to placement” workforce development project targeted towards veterans. The Gas Sector Utility Workers Training Program will develop highly skilled, on-the-job trained workers for the Illinois natural gas industry.
The $3.5 million, multi-partner and union-backed program begins later this month at the City Colleges of Chicago and is designed to train 100 recruits each year. All students will be required to complete a six month classroom -based curriculum and a one month on-the-job internship at Peoples Gas in order to receive the Gas Utility Worker Advanced Certificate.
“Our service members prove every day that they have the skills and work ethic businesses need and value,” Governor Quinn said. “This initiative will help them make a successful transition to civilian life, support Illinois’ growing natural gas industry and ensure we fulfill our duty to honor their sacrifices.”
The program will be administered by the UWUA’s Power for America Training Trust Fund which connects workers with the highest quality training available to meet the needs of industry and the global marketplace. The new Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (U-MAP) is open to veterans who have recently returned from service and is designed to provide the requisite skills and knowledge an individual will need to become successful in a career within the Gas Utility Sector.
“Far too many veterans return home to barriers in finding employment and other opportunities. Through this new training program we’re helping to ensure these individuals can make a smooth transition into civilian life and begin to return to a sense of normalcy,” DCEO Acting Director David Vaught said. “These men and women gave selflessly of themselves to serve our country and we must do whatever we can to help them find good jobs.”
Utility Workers of America National President Michael Langford said, "The UWUA's Military Assistance Program and our Power 4 America Training Trust take great pride in creating this new career path to good jobs for returning veterans who have honorably served our great nation. Through this training program, not only will they be able to sustain their families over the long-term, they will be contributing to the economic life of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois, and also setting an example for others to follow.”
Will Evans, President of Peoples Gas said, “We need a pipeline of highly skilled workers in order to modernize the natural gas infrastructure in Chicago and we are pleased the State of Illinois, Utility Workers of America and their local 18007 are working with us to train veterans for these long-term jobs.”
Students in the Gas Sector program will receive training five days per week at two City Colleges of Chicago locations: Dawson Technical Institute and Wilbur Wright College. City Colleges will offer student support services including case management advising, tutoring and mentoring to ensure students receive all the supports they need to complete the program successfully. In addition, the certificate coursework will count towards the first year of an associate degree, and students will have the opportunity to continue their studies toward a degree after they are employed.
“We are committed to providing the instructional training for the Gas Sector program because this initiative perfectly aligns with our focus on preparing students for in-demand jobs in high-growth industries and life-long careers,” Paula Wolff, chair of the Board of Trustees, City Colleges of Chicago said.
The first class of 25 students will begin their orientation on April 12th at the UWUA’s local 18007’s offices in Chicago.
DCEO’s Office of Employment and Training provides job placement, workforce training and support services to adult, youth and dislocated Illinoisans under the federal Workforce Investment Act. For more information on the state’s workforce programs, visit www.illinoisworknet.com. For more information on services available to veterans, visit the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs at http://www2.illinois.gov/veterans.