Mayor Richard M. Daley today welcomed 175 Chicago residents as members of the first class of Chicago Career Tech, a new public-private partnership whose goal is to re-train unemployed middle class workers and put them back to work in areas such as health care, information technology, telecommunications, digital media and other fast-growing industries with increasing career opportunities.
“Chicago Career Tech reflects one of our fundamental objectives, which is to transform our economy and make Chicago a leader in the technology based economy of the 21st century,” Daley said in a news conference, held at the office of the law firm of Mayer Brown, 71 S. Wacker Dr. that followed the Mayor’s remarks to the new class.
“To do that means we must both recruit the businesses of tomorrow as well as train our workforce for the jobs they will provide,” he said.
The Mayor said that because of the recession, there has never been a more important time than right now to establish a program like Chicago Career Tech.
He said that in times such as these, government can’t add thousands of permanent, new government jobs at the state or local level, so getting people back to work requires recruiting new businesses and supporting the efforts of every business in Chicago to grow and better compete in the new economy.
“From today on, Chicago Career Tech will play a big role in ensuring the future economic security of Chicago,” he said.
The program is aimed over the long term at helping about 30,000 unemployed Chicago middle class workers get retrained in technology. The goal is that after the retraining, they will obtain new jobs. .
Over the long term, the City will invest $25 million from its Parking Meter Human Infrastructure Fund to support Career Tech.
The first class had 754 applicants for 175 positions. The program plans to double the size of the class that begins in October.
To take part in the program, an applicant must be a City resident, be receiving State of Illinois Unemployment benefits or have exhausted those benefits, have made between $25,000 and $75,000 annually in a previous job, have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED Degree and complete two interviews and demonstrate a commitment to 6 day a week, 6 month program.
In fact, almost half the members of the first class have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The average age of the class is 46.
“This is a group of workers that’s increasingly at risk of becoming permanently unemployed because of changing workforce needs, and we can’t let that happen,” Daley said.
Chicago Career Tech requires two days of classroom training, two days of job shadowing in the private sector and two days of service learning at a not-for-profit.
Already, 28 Chicago area businesses have committed to provide mentoring and hand-on learning experience to the class and 51 Chicago area non-profits have committed to providing two days a week of service-based learning assignments.
The program has received significant early support from CNA, Microsoft and the Joyce Foundation, and I’m pleased to announce that Northern Trust Bank has recently come aboard and that the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has given a $300,000 Innovation grant in support of Career Tech.
Other organizations that have provided support are United Way (service learning coordination), Lee Hecht Harrison (career services coordination), Mayer Brown (pro-bono legal assistance), National Able (federal grant coordination) and the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago (child care availability for participants.)
“Government alone can’t operate a program like this one, and I want to thank all the businesses and other organizations that have helped us get Career Tech off the ground quickly,” Daley said.
He said Chicago Career Tech builds on many steps the City has taken over the past two years to help reshape its economy with a clear concentration on creating the jobs and expanding the businesses of tomorrow.
“Instead of looking separately at our city's job training programs, our public schools and our City Colleges, we're trying to coordinate all of these resources to have the greatest impact on our efforts to train and retrain our workers for the jobs of the future,” the Mayor said.He said the City has:
• Re-focused its ongoing workforce and education programs on the sectors that are critical to the future of our local economy: health care, hospitality, transportation and technology.
• Created Chicago LEADS, a partnership between the business community, the academic community and government to better train the entire workforce -- skilled and unskilled workers alike -- to ensure they are well-prepared for the jobs of the future.
• Created the Chicago Workforce Investment Council -- made up of leading members of the business community -- to strengthen that effort by holding public agencies accountable for spending their budgets in the most efficient and effective way possible.
“Getting people back to work and creating new jobs in these industries will be critical to Chicago's future economic success and not just replacing those that have already been lost, is a big challenge,” Daley said.
“But with new ideas such as Chicago Career Tech -- and with the support and involvement of our business, civic, faith-based, non-profit and foundation communities – we’ll meet that challenge and secure Chicago’s economic future,” he said.
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