Empowering Communities

Workforce training program, goes virtual, to support students’ commitment to their dreams

June 2, 2020

Staying focused, even in a global pandemic, ComEd maintained one of its many core values, to develop the workforce of the future.

ComEd CONSTRUCT, a 10-week training program that increases employment opportunities for minorities in Chicago and northern Illinois neighborhoods was entering its sixth week when COVID-19 became a serious threat.

To enable students to finish the remaining four weeks safely, ComEd Workforce Development Manager Laticia Holbert restructured the program to a virtual experience.

“It was very important for me to keep the hope and dream alive for these students. With that in mind, I challenged myself to develop virtual sessions to meet their needs,” Holbert said. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my boss, ComEd Vice President of Economic Development Diana Sharpe.”

The program is organized by ComEd in conjunction with construction industry companies, local utilities and social service agencies. It offers participants the information and guidance needed to compete for entry-level construction and project management jobs.

The in-person classes were redesigned into weekly virtual meetings. Holbert led calls with the 80-plus students to go over life skills training, career advice and practical education about the construction industry. She even made sure students were able to participate in the program’s annual career fair (virtually, of course).

“During the career fair, companies focused their conversations on hiring opportunities for the students,” she said. “Each company had an HR representative discuss the hiring process and gave recommendations on how to be successful in the various entry-level roles.”

Since the start of the program in 2013, more than 600 students have participated.

“I have seen many students’ lives changed for the better because of this program,” Holbert said. “Most importantly, it’s not just the student that changes, but it’s their family, peers and ultimately the communities that benefit.”

For more information on CONSTRUCT, visit ComEd.com/CONSTRUCT.

CONSTRUCT student participating in class before program went virtual