PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — SkillsUSA Illinois in Pekin was selected to receive $500,000 to support construction pre-apprenticeship programs that will create a qualified talent pipeline of diverse candidates.

“Honest, good-paying jobs should be available in all fields to anyone willing to put in the work,” said Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “Unfortunately, certain groups may not have the same opportunities as others. This funding will help open doors and break down barriers to welcome people of all demographics and backgrounds into the trades.”

The grant funding for the pre-apprenticeship program comes from the Illinois Works Jobs Program Act as part of Rebuild Illinois, which was supported by Koehler in 2019. The program aims to open doors to career opportunities in the construction and building trades for people who have been historically underrepresented in the industry.

Through this model, the grantees will offer structured pathways to help graduates transition from the pre-apprenticeship program to a full apprenticeship program in construction and building trades.

“This grant will create opportunities for students to connect their learning to their future career, which is what SkillsUSA is all about. Our proven model improves college and career readiness, creates employment opportunities, addresses equity in underserved communities, and expands partnerships between the workforce system, education and business,” said SkillsUSA Executive Director Eric Hill. “This program aims to move these students towards the SkillsUSA Illinois Registered Apprenticeship Program.”