Empowering Communities

New summer job training program launches to expose more high schoolers to career possibilities in energy

June 20, 2023

ComEd and the YMCA of Metro Chicago are joining forces this summer to help local students explore career opportunities in construction and the trades. A three-week paid program, CONSTRUCT Youth Academy, will introduce high school juniors and seniors to entry-level craft positions beginning July 10. This program is designed to help prepare students for a growing number of energy industry jobs created by Illinois’ clean energy transition. 

“We’re thrilled to be working with the YMCA to expose our young people to future careers in energy as part of an ongoing effort to build a skilled and diverse talent pipeline for the industry,” said Laticia Holbert, Workforce Development manager. “With the clean energy jobs boom coming to Illinois, we want to ensure that more young people from across our communities — including black and brown youth — are poised to seize those opportunities.” 

Holbert is referring to the upwards of 150,000 clean energy jobs projected to arrive in Illinois by 2050, according to a recently commissioned study. The study examines job opportunities projected as a result of the clean energy transformation, which is expected to result in increased electrification and the incorporation of renewables and other clean technologies. These changes have been identified as priorities in the state’s landmark Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), and recent federal climate action in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). 

The CONSTRUCT Youth Academy is the newest extension to ComEd’s CONSTRUCT Infrastructure Academy, which for over 10 years has equipped 800 local residents with the training and skills needed to succeed in the utilities and construction fields. The majority of participants are from diverse backgrounds, and more than 70 percent have secured jobs post program completion. 

“To ensure a pipeline of diverse, skilled and local talent that will power the clean energy transformation in Illinois, ComEd is committed to expanding proven job training programs to reach more young people across our communities,” said Louie Binswanger, SVP of governmental and regulatory affairs at ComEd. “In partnership with the YMCA of Metro Chicago, the CONSTRUCT Youth Academy expands on the impact of our CONSTRUCT Infrastructure Academy, focusing on helping more young people from our communities pursue good paying careers in the trades.” 

Over the course of three weeks, teens will learn firsthand what it takes to be a construction worker or an overhead helper. They’ll also get an inside look at many other job possibilities within the energy sector, from administrative and customer service to engineering and more. From Tuesday through Thursday, participants will meet at the South Side YMCA, located at 6330 S Stony Island Avenue, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to learn how they can play a role in addressing climate change and creating a cleaner future for their communities.  

At the completion of the program, participants will receive a stipend of $300. Teens interested in participating in the CONSTRUCT Youth Academy must submit an application by Saturday, June 24 

“Equipping young people with knowledge and connections through experiences like the CONSTRUCT Youth Academy not only empowers them to discover and explore new career possibilities, it also activates a longer runway to prepare for post-graduation life,” said Dorri McWhorter, President and CEO, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. “The seeds that ComEd, the Y, and our partners are planting through this program will grow into lifelong opportunities for this inaugural youth cohort and, ultimately, the communities we serve.”