ComEd, YMCA of Metro Chicago Celebrate First Graduating Class of New High School Skills Training Program
CHICAGO, July 27, 2023 — ComEd and the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago are celebrating the first graduating class of an all-new training program designed to prepare high school students for exciting career possibilities in the clean energy and utilities fields. Today 21 Chicago-area students successfully completed the ComEd CONSTRUCT Youth Academy, a paid training program which puts them steps closer to pursuing careers in the fast-growing growing clean energy sector in Illinois.
The new program is a part of ComEd's plan to grow its workforce to meet changing demands facing the grid and as customer demands evolve for the future. A recent study estimates that as many as 150,000 new clean energy jobs could be created by 2050 to support the clean energy transition underway in Illinois.
"The transition to a cleaner energy future will certainly offer health and environmental benefits through improved air quality, but ComEd is also committed to ensuring that the job creation and economic opportunity sparked by this transition benefits every community we serve," said Keisha Parker, Vice President of External Affairs for ComEd. "In collaboration with the YMCA and partners across the region, we are bringing job training and educational opportunities to our communities that will expose more youth to exciting career possibilities in the utilities and ensure the diverse and skilled talent pipeline that the jobs of the future will demand."
The CONSTRUCT Youth Academy launched in June as a three-week training program designed to expose high school students to what it's like to work in the utilities and construction trades. During the program, students participated in a first-of-its-kind work-study experience, with opportunities to learn directly from utility leaders. Sessions exposed students to career possibilities and new advancements in the energy sector, including the use of drones to maintain and operate a modern grid, growth in solar and electric vehicles (EVs), energy efficiency programs that help customers lower energy usage while lowering the carbon footprint, and more.
"Through the first-ever CONSTRUCT Youth Academy program, our students have been able to plant seeds for the future that will help them grow lifelong opportunities and strong foots for the future," said Dorri McWhorter, President and CEO of the YMCA. "Professionals in the energy, utility, construction, and facilities-management sectors will only continue to be in greater and greater demand here in Illinois. Having this experience under their belts will position them for success, no matter which career path they choose after high school."
The first-ever CONSTRUCT Youth Academy graduation highlights the accomplishments of a diverse class of Chicago-area high school youth, representing community areas from across the city's south and west sides. Students enrolled in the program were recruited by the YMCA, which hosted in-classroom sessions at its Chicago South location. Students completing the program will receive a stipend for their training.
"Joining the CONSTRUCT Youth Academy training program has helped me learn more about career possibilities with ComEd," said Jayden Mosley, 15, a program graduate and South Chicago resident. "But it was especially exciting to learn about the clean energy transition and the ways that new jobs will play a part in helping our communities and the environment. With new knowledge from this program, I'm excited about what the future holds for me and my community."
The CONSTRUCT Youth Academy was launched to meet the growing demand for skills training and builds on the success of the CONSTRUCT Infrastructure Academy, ComEd's premier workforce development program helping train residents for craft roles in the utilities and construction fields. To date, the program has graduated more than 800 residents, with a majority of participants from diverse communities, and a more than 70 percent job placement rate.
The CONSTRUCT Youth Academy is one example of how ComEd is invested in growing job training and educational programs that will expand the pipeline of talent needed for future clean energy growth. ComEd also offers a range of in-depth job training and apprenticeship style programs, including the Craft Academy, the Dawson Tech Overhead Electrical Line Workers training program – a partnership with the City Colleges of Chicago – along with college scholarship programs, and in-school trades training in partnership with Chicago Public Schools to spur an interest in STEM careers.
As a result of its growing investment in career readiness and education across the region, ComEd's job training and STEM education programs last year directly benefited more than 2,000 local residents. For more on ComEd career readiness programs, please visit www.comed.com/cleanenergyjobs.
The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago is the leader in accessible, inclusive programming for more than 300,000 individuals each year, strengthening community by connecting people to their purpose, potential, and each other. The YMCA of Metro Chicago is evolving to become a 21st-century social enterprise for the region, through an association of 14 centers, 5 overnight camps, and 100 extension sites throughout Chicagoland and the Midwest. Learn more about the Y's locations and our programming at ymcachicago.org.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 250 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com.
Director, Public Relations & Communications
YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago