KRA Monthly Spotlight!

KRA Westside AJC Supports Chicago Construction Industry – Recently, from Linthicum, MD, a report emerged related to the KRA YouthWorks! Construction Academy that is contributing to the industry’s efforts to address a critical skilled-worker shortage.

In Chicago, IL—700 miles away—another KRA program is playing a pivotal role, under the auspices of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (CCWP), in the development of three training projects, one of which is ConstructionWorks, powered by the Illinois Tollway under the Workforce Development Technical Assistance Initiative (WDTAI).

Ron Hearns, KRA Director of Midwest Workforce Operations, reports, “As the vendor selected for the Initiative, the CCWP tasked the KRA Chicago-Westside American Job Center to establish partnerships…consortia…between diverse workforce-development organizations to assist jobseekers obtain quality employment in the construction industry, particularly populations that are underrepresented in the industry.”

For the second project, ‘We Can Build It Partnership”, KRA Chicago-Westside supports Chicago Women In Trades related to the Barack Obama Presidential Center. Resources combined through The Partnership are designed to provide career-education services to 3,000 residents, enroll 165 men and women in traditional and fast- track, pre-apprenticeship training, and place 75 participants in apprenticeships/employment.

Initiated by the Lakeside Alliance—which includes four of the largest African-American owned construction-contracting firms—The Partnership developed and implemented a comprehensive model for recruiting, preparing and connecting community residents to construction careers.


The third project is a 5-year endeavor with Local 134 Electrical Union, IBEW-NECA Technical Institute, for which KRA Chicago-Westside provides a wide variety of case management and supportive services for registered individuals to train as apprentices in assembling, installing, maintaining, and testing electrical equipment and wiring systems in commercial, industrial, and residential structures.

In addition to providing WIOA-mandated career-development services for all eligible participants, as appropriate to each partner’s requirements, KRA Chicago-Westside attends project planning and -implementation meetings; collaborates with partners to support participant access to opportunity; contributes to the development/on-going evaluation of project designs and outcomes; and participates in career education and other marketing events.

Mr. Hearns concluded, “I’ve lived in Chicago since 1970, almost 5 decades of my life, experiencing first-hand the economic ups-and-downs of our community, especially how the ‘downs’ impact vital industry-sectors, like Construction. Thus, I take a personal- and professional-level of pride in how the industry is rebounding, and the contribution that KRA Chicago-Westside is making to that recovery through the success of these three projects.”


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