Illinois announces $25m for diversity in construction

The US state of Illinois has announced $25m in financing for an initiative to increase diversity in apprenticeships for construction and the building trades.

The Illinois Works Jobs Program, which began on 1 January, aims to ensure that all communities have access to careers in the construction industry and building trades, and also will benefit from state projects.

The $25m will aid community organisations recruit apprentices for construction projects, with an end goal of having apprentices carry out 10% of jobs on public works projects.

The funding has been announced alongside Rebuild Illinois, the state’s $45bn six-year investment in roads, bridges, railways, universities and state facilities.

JB Pritzker, Illinois’ governor, said: "Rebuild Illinois is the largest, most robust capital plan in state history. We’re working with our partners to make sure every community in the state benefits from these good jobs – especially those who have been left out for far too long.

"We’re putting Illinois’ government back on the side of working families, designing a state that is economically prosperous not just for the few, but for every Illinoisan, no matter the colour of their skin or their zip code."

Napoleon Harris, a member of the Illinois senate, said: "In order to build a healthy and comprehensive economy, we must supply minority businesses with full and fair access to local and state contraction opportunities.

"I applaud governor Pritzker for seeing the significance of this measure and hope to see local governments taking advantage of the business enterprise program to decrease the inequality gap for minority, veterans and female-owned businesses."

Image: Construction on Chicago’s waterfront (Shelly Bychowski/Dreamstime)

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