ComEd joined community members to celebrate the sixth class of Tools of the Trade, a seven-week apprenticeship program that connects high school students from diverse communities with vocational training in the trades and teaches them to work safely with tools. The 25 students were exposed to careers in the energy industry through ComEd guest speakers, hands-on projects, site visits and professional development classes at ComEd training centers in Chicago and Rockford.
“An introduction to trades and the use of today’s tools can be life changing for students of this age and spark an early interest in the exciting field of energy,” said Terence R. Donnelly, president and director of the operation of ComEd. “As ComEd works to promote a more sustainable and cleaner energy future for the 9 million people we serve in Northern Illinois, we are committed to ensuring it includes equitable opportunities for our communities. Through programs like Tools of the Trade, ComEd is preparing a new generation of diverse and bright young leaders to pursue family careers.
Students participating in the program gain hands-on experience observing line workers in the field, learning safety protocols and the use of hand tools, networking with ComEd employees, and learning to apply math in the workplace. energy industry preparing for construction. and the Skilled Trades Examination (CAST), required for trades and construction jobs.
The program introduces current high school students aged 17 to 19 to careers in the trades as an alternative to a college degree. Additionally, the program provides students with resources to specifically consider jobs in the energy/utility field – an area that is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years to support the clean energy transformation underway in Illinois. The Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) estimates that 2,000 new utility jobs will be created in the Midwest in the next three years alone.
ComEd partners with the Boys & Girls Club of Rockford and UCAN of Chicago to recruit students to apply for Tools of the Trade. Applications open in the spring and students can apply through either organization.
“The Boys & Girls Club of Rockford believes that introducing our members to the skilled trades will provide opportunities for young people in our region,” said Denise Noe, Director of Development, Boys & Girls Club. “Our partnership with ComEd and the Tools of Commerce program introduces careers in the rapidly growing energy industry to young people who may not have been aware of the potential these fields hold. We are grateful to be part of a program that offers so much potential to young people in our region and to celebrate the promotion. »
“UCAN has a strong commitment to workforce development and a strong reputation for providing a range of support and resources to young adults in this space,” said Christa Hamilton, President and CEO, UCAN . “Our successful collaboration with ComEd on the Tools of the Trade program is a great example of how we help young people find the power of their potential, now and in the future. We are pleased to be actively involved in a summer program that addresses the shortage of skilled trades workers by providing young people with exposure and experience in a real environment. We congratulate them on graduating from such an impactful program.
Since the launch of the Tools of the Trade program in 2016, 108 students have graduated. In 2019, the program expanded to include Rockford to make it more accessible to students across ComEd’s service territory. This year’s class included 10 students from Rockford and 15 students from Chicago, and 76% of the cohort are minorities.
“This program has opened my eyes to the quality of trades for our society and how they can pave the way to a successful career. This experience inspired me to give up on getting an economics degree at my community college and pursue the trades,” said Tanner Habben-Crandall, a 2022 graduate and resident of Sterling, Illinois. “After graduating from Tools of the Trade, I plan to apply to ComEd for an entry-level position in overhead and in five years I hope to be called a lineman journeyman at ComEd.
Students interested in participating in the next session of Tools of the Trade should contact ExternalPrograms@ComEd.com to find out when application will open in 2023.
Tools of the Trade graduates are eligible to continue developing their skills through other ComEd-sponsored professional training programs, including the Craft Academy, ComEd’s CONSTRUCT Infrastructure Academy, and ComEd’s Overhead Electrical Line Worker (OELW) program. Dawson Technical Institute, which has graduated over 435 residents with 61% of them hired at ComEd.
For more information on these job training programs, please contact WorkforceDevelopment@ComEd.com or visit the ComEd website.