Empowering Communities

Training program opens doors for diverse and returning citizens

August 20, 2020

Training programs funded by the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) helped place nearly 450 diverse and returning citizens in energy-related jobs.

The 2019 annual report submitted to the Illinois Commerce Commission reviewed the progress of three programs in providing job training: The Craft Apprenticeship Program led by the Illinois International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Renewable Energy Fund (IBEW REF), the Solar Pipeline and Multi-cultural Job Training programs.

The programs had a combined enrollment of 614 trainees. Ninety-four percent, or 577, completed the program and 443 secured employment – up from 285 in 2018. Participants accepted a broad range of positions, including solar panel installers and technicians, energy brokers, site surveyors and training instructors. 

    Individual program results in 2019:

 Craft Apprenticeship Program 

  • 320 trainees, 292, or nearly 92 percent secured employment after graduation. 
  • Training covered electric industry trades and skills, introduction to solar and train-the-trainer programs delivered to IBEW locals at high schools across Illinois. A solar program under development will be offered at select community colleges statewide.
  • Led by the Illinois International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Renewable Energy Fund.

   Solar Pipeline

  • 164 trainees, with 108, or two-thirds of those eligible offered jobs after completing a program.
  • Training included a solar bootcamp, lessons in power industry skills, alternative energy, OSHA regulations, financial literacy, math and career guidance.
  • Programs were implemented by Elevate Energy, Illinois Central College, OAI Inc. and Safer Foundation.

   Multi-cultural Job Training programs

  • 130 participants in community and business programs.
  • Seventy-five percent completed the community-based program, with 43 being offered jobs.
  • The business program trainees had a 100-percent completion rate.
  • The community programs were implemented by Chicago Urban League, National Latino Education Institute (NLEI), ASPIRA of Illinois and Austin Peoples Action Center (APAC). The business programs were supported by multicultural organizations including Chatham Business Association and Hispanic American Construction Industry Association (HACIA).  
The grantees who receive funds and implement the job training programs have partnered with the Salvation Army, U.S. Probations and Parole, the Illinois Department of Human Services, aldermanic offices throughout Chicago and many social service organizations for recruitment of and outreach to potential participants.

Enacted in 2016, FEJA is designed to increase ComEd customers’ access to renewable energy and expand energy efficiency options to create more savings. 

The FEJA training programs are scheduled to run through 2029 and are supported through three successive $10 million funding periods. The first installment was made in 2017, and future payments will be made in 2021 and 2025. FEJA strengthens the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard through funding of $180 million per year and growing to $220 million per year for wind power, large-scale solar, and rooftop and community solar.