SPRINGFIELD, Ill (WEHT) – Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced $9.6 million in grant funding to support construction pre-apprenticeship programs, which will help create qualified, diverse candidates as part of the Illinois Works initiative.

According to a press release from the state of Illinois, comprehensive pre-apprenticeship programs can help participants gain admission to apprenticeship programs, which provide a greater chance to gain employment in construction trades. According to a 2020 report from the Illinois Department of Labor, only four percent of Illinois apprentices are women and only 29 percent are people of color.

“My administration is committed to supporting workforce training programs that are equitable and accessible for all Illinois residents, regardless of their background or what neighborhood they call home,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This $9.6 million investment in the Illinois Works program will support nearly 1,000 pre-apprenticeships, giving participants the skills, they need to earn family-sustaining wages and succeed in the jobs of tomorrow.”

According to a press release from the state of Illinois, the program is funded by the Illinois Works Jobs Program Act as part of Rebuild Illinois which is working to grant more Illinois residents access to jobs created by State capital projects. According to the state of Illinois, The program aims to open doors to career opportunities in the construction and building trades, including those who have been historically underrepresented in this industry.

“Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, DCEO is more committed than ever to growing a diverse workforce that will boost local economies while creating sustainable career paths for all Illinoisans,” said Sylvia I. Garcia, Acting Director of DCEO. “Women and people of color face significant barriers to good-paying construction jobs and we’re proud to invest in pre-apprenticeship programs that will create a more dynamic and inclusive workforce.”