CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ComEd and HIRE360 today joined members of the community to recognize the first class of graduates of the Take Charge: Pre-Apprenticeship program, a first-of-its-kind program to prepare local residents for careers supporting the fast-growing electric vehicle (EV) industry in Illinois. A diverse class of 17 graduates from across the Chicagoland area has completed the 8-week training program, preparing them to meet entry-level trades roles at ComEd and at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134.
The new program is part of ComEd's plan to grow the workforce to meet evolving demands facing the grid, with EV adoption quickly accelerating in Illinois. Today, there are 80,000 registered statewide, and 70,000 registered in ComEd’s service territory alone, up from just over 19,000 statewide in 2019. The shift toward EVs and a clean energy economy is expected to create a significant number of jobs in the ears ahead, with a recent study estimating that as many as 150,000 new clean energy jobs coming to Illinois by 2050.
“The clean energy transition will require a skilled, diverse talent pipeline, and today’s Take Charge graduates demonstrate that those workers are here within our Chicagoland communities,” said Gil C. Quiniones, CEO of ComEd. “In collaboration with HIRE360 and others in the region, we are establishing training programs that provide jobseekers from diverse communities with essential skills, positioning them to be first in line for good-paying careers created by the rise in clean tech, including Illinois’ fast-growing EV sector. These workers can help us build a cleaner, more modern grid for the future.”
The inaugural Take Charge program featured a diverse class of trainees from across Chicago, with 16 individuals of color, and four women, and with ages spanning from 18 to 51. As part of a commitment to ensuring more women and people of color can be represented in training for the trades, HIRE360 prioritized recruitment of diverse candidates from across Chicago and the region, with a focus on training in communities in the south and west sides.
“HIRE360’s core tenants are to provide sustainable career opportunities for local residents, particularly women, Black and Brown individuals and minorities, and the Take Charge program provides a lifetime opportunity for these 17 graduates seeking to enter the EV industry,” said Jay Rowell, Executive Director of HIRE360. “Working with ComEd, we are exposing more local candidates to exciting careers in the clean energy space, and building a talent pipeline that the industry will demand and that our communities will need to stay ahead. We are proud of the commitment these candidates have shown throughout the program and look forward to what they can accomplish in their newfound career paths.”
During the program, participants received general training on EV topics and the electrical industry, helping them develop knowledge and skills for careers in these fields. The eight-week curriculum included on-site training at McCormick Place, as well as off-site learning opportunities with ComEd fleet managers and with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), where candidates received a firsthand behind-the-scenes experience in CTA’s electric buses and charging facilities.
“Partnerships with ComEd and HIRE360 are essential to ensuring talent is there to meet the demand for a growing number of green energy jobs here in Illinois,” said Gene Kent, Executive Director, IBEW-NECA Technical Institute. “Providing candidates with hands-on experience and connecting them with industry leaders is invaluable to their professional development. They are excellent candidates for apprenticeship as they pursue the unionized electrical industry.”
Take Charge participants also toured the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134 (IBEW-134) Center in Bronzeville, the Chicago Drives Electric exhibition at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show, and construction sites located around the city to provide hands-on industry exposure and an opportunity for networking.
"The Take Charge program opened my eyes to many opportunities that I never knew were possible, but that will have a huge impact on the environment and my future," said Yasriyyah Green, a graduate and South Shore resident. "I am excited to apply my experience learning about EVs in the Take Charge training program toward to a future electrical career, which will align with my professional goals and allow me to make a positive impact in the community.”
The new Take Charge: EV Charging Pre-Apprenticeship program is just one example of how ComEd is partnering with partners around the region and investing in job training to connect more diverse, local jobseekers to the growing number of opportunities required for the clean energy transition in Illinois. ComEd also offers a range of in-depth job training and apprenticeship-style programs, including the CONSTRUCT Infrastructure Academy and the Craft Academy, among others, with its job training and youth education programs collectively reaching 2,000 people every year across the region.
For more on ComEd career readiness programs, please visit www.comed.com/cleanenergyjobs.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 250 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Launched in December of 2019, HIRE360 is an Industry Led, Community Focused nonprofit ensuring that our city’s future is inspired by all the communities that call Chicago home. Our “demand” driven approach to workforce development allows a direct connection with employers and unions to develop workforce recruitment and training programs that meet the specific and timely employment needs of the hospitality and construction sectors. As a workforce intermediary, we identify, recruit, skill up and help community members navigate the apprenticeship process. Our business development program creates wealth and career opportunities in Chicago’s communities by investing capital, time and mentorship to help Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises start, grow and thrive. Learn more at www.HIRE360Chicago.com.