More Than 600 People Visit 2nd Annual Union Construction Trades Fair

More Than 600 People Visit 2nd Annual Union Construction Trades Fair

July 28, 2023

CHICAGO – What a difference a year makes! At last year’s inaugural event, 200 participants came to CISCO’s Union Construction Trades Fair, held at the Chicago-based IBEW Local 134, to learn about apprenticeship opportunities and careers in the Union construction industry. During this year’s 2nd annual event – held July 21, more than 600 participants came out!

Participants received information from 16 Union Trades, Union contractors, community groups and Union contractor associations. School age children and teens also received backpacks filled with CPS school supplies. MANY Unions and contractors donated school supplies and gave monetary donations!

CISCO 2nd Annual Fair

CISCO’s 2nd Annual Union Construction Trades Fair open at 10 a.m. to find participants waiting outside to get in! Throughout the day, vendors encountered more than 600 individuals wanting to learn how get into an apprenticeship to start a career in the building trades. Photo courtesy of CISCO

CISCO’s Education-to-Careers Director Jamillah Muhammad said the increase could be because more young people are looking for a career with stability, advancement, and job security – which can all be found within the building construction trades. “There are many options and paths you can take. There is a variety of roles and specializations, there’s no college debt and great benefits,” Muhammad explained.

2nd Annual Union Construction Trades Fair

During the event, CISCO gave away 175 backpacks to school age children and teens, which were filled with CPS school supplies. Photo courtesy of CISCO

Some participants stayed for the entire four-hour event because they were waiting on friends to arrive. “I am interested in finding a job,” one participant said. Even though he understood this wasn’t a hiring event, he felt it was important to invite his friends so they could see for themselves the benefits of working in the Union construction industry. He made a point to visit all 34 vendors to gather information.

CISCO 2nd Annual Union Construction Trades Fair

The Tinley Park-based Heat & Frost Insulators Local 17 offers an apprenticeship program where apprentices use classroom time to study math, blueprint interpretation, application techniques, pattern layout, workplace safety and supervision. Photo courtesy of CISCO

Various schools and youth organizations brought students to the Trades Fair to let them learn that attending college is not their only option. Curie High School Counselor Linda Verano arranged for 17 of her students to attend the event. All of them are part of the high school’s summer work-based learning programs.

In the Career Masters program, students become College Career Ambassadors. They research post-secondary pathways, compile the information, and present that information to the student body. The Tech Crew program provides students the knowledge and training to fix and repair things around the high school. Students are paid through both programs for their participation.

Verano was researching an event that was trades-related and came across information on CISCO’s 2nd Annual Union Construction Trades Fair. “These students are really curious about their career options. As counselors, we need to know how the trades and apprenticeships work, so we’re able to tell our students about viable career options,” she explained.

This large school group could be seen inside the IBEW hall, stopping at different vendor tables, until they found their way outside to the Powering Chicago Mobile Field Trip Truck – a 73-foot semi-truck outfitted with solar panels and other emerging technologies that every IBEW Local 134 apprentice learns during their apprenticeship.

The Curie High School students found themselves listening to Powering Chicago Executive Director Elbert Walters III explain different ways electricity is generated – via nuclear power plants, solar power and wind turbines – and how the power is stored in batteries. Walters also explained how the electrical industry is changing.

CISCO 2nd Annual Fair

Students from Curie High School find out about electrical jobs from IBEW Local 134 – NECA Powering Chicago Executive Director Elbert Walters III. Photo courtesy of CISCO

“The great thing about our industry – it’s expanding because everything is becoming electrified. If you’re thinking about getting into a craft or trade that’s going to pay you great wages – it’s the Union trades. It’s going to allow you different opportunities and be able to choose a specialty, be financially free and work anywhere in the country,” he explained to the students.

CISCO 2nd Annual Union Construction Trades Fair

CISCO 2nd Annual Union Construction Trades Fair

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