Over 120,000 Illinoisans are already working in the clean energy sector as of 2016. However, as a result of the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) which requires at least 4,300 megawatts of new solar and wind power - enough electricity to power millions of homes - to be built in Illinois by 2030, thousands of more jobs will be created.
FEJA authorized a total of $30 million to develop and establish three clean energy-related job training programs for Illinois citizens over the next 12 years in order to support the additional workforce needed to reach these goals. FEJA requires these programs to be implemented by ComEd through their Workforce Development Implementation Plan. The $30M will be allocated in three $10 million increments which will be paid in the delivery years of 2017, 2021, and 2025, spread across 3 different programs as further detailed below.
These workforce development programs offer job and skill set training in the electric and solar industry, resulting in potential job placement in the clean energy, electrical, or construction sector.
The goals of the job training programs are to (1) establish a pool of trained installers who will be able to work on the distributed generation and community solar projects that FEJA seeks to develop; (2) assist in the development of a workforce with the skills to perform solar installations in the electric industry, including but not limited to installations enabled by FEJA; (3) fund job training through community-based, diversity-focused organizations that strive to provide participants with economic or career-related opportunities within, but not limited to, to the electric industry.
Many of these training programs are expected to begin in 2018 and 2019 in a variety of locations across the State, so that all residents in Illinois, including low-income households, returning citizens, foster care alumni, and environmental justice community residents, have an opportunity to access.
The Solar Training Pipeline is designed to establish a pool of trained solar installers from economically disadvantaged and environmental justice communities, alumni of the Illinois foster care system, and returning citizens with a job placement goal of 2,000 individuals by 2029. The pipeline will feed into solar projects approved under the Illinois Solar for All program, but trainees might not exclusively work on Illinois Solar for All projects. Training providers were selected through a competitive bidding process administered by the Chicago Community Trust, with preference given to women- and minority-led providers. In December 2017, the following four training providers were awarded:
Elevate Energy (Chicago and Marion/Carbondale)
❖ Elevate Energy will partner with Millennium Solar Electric to deliver solar installer training to underserved communities on the south and west sides of Chicago. This program will entail four trainings with 25 students each (1 per year over 4 years) starting in May 2018, with each training running for 10 weeks.
❖ Elevate Energy will partner with Lutheran Social Services of Illinois and GRID Alternatives for employment skills and solar installer training for returning citizens, foster care alumni, and veterans in the Marion/Carbondale region – three training classes of up to 12 students starting in April 2018
❖ Elevate Energy will manage a contractor accelerator program, working to develop minority/woman/disadvantaged/veteran owned businesses to be solar contractors– three trainings of 5-10 students, which will include a series of bi-monthly contractor development workshops
Illinois Central College (ICC) - Peoria
❖ ICC will establish two 10-week trainings per year with 15 participants per training beginning in March 2018
❖ This program includes 4 weeks of job-readiness training with Tri-County Urban League and Heaven’s View Community Development Corporation, plus 5 weeks of solar training.
❖ Technical training also includes ten NABCEP knowledge objectives to assist with preparation for NABCEP Associate Certificate Exam
❖ Participants earn $10/hour during the technical training portion and receive assistance with job placement, including with HVAC and existing rooftop solar companies until FEJA solar projects become shovel ready
❖ Program is designed to help ex-offenders, former foster children, and residents of Peoria’s low-income areas, but is also open to all 18-year olds with a high school diploma or equivalent who live within ICC’s 11-county boundaries - application form is available online
OAI, Inc. (Chicago)
❖ OAI plans to train 160 participants from low-income minority, current and former foster care, women and veteran, and environmental justice communities over 4 years
❖ OAI will establish eight cycles of twenty students (8-10 weeks each) - 2 classes in 2018 starting in May, plus 3 classes/year in 2019-2021
❖ Training includes power skills, career guidance, technical solar training basics, MREA site PV solar site assessor, basic carpentry, OSHA, and forklift operations, totaling 252 hours
❖ Training prepares students to take NABCEP Associate Exam and MREA PV Solar Site Assessment Certificate Exam
❖ Safer Foundation will manage recruitment of all participants for Millennium Solar Electric training cohorts, with assistance from Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and Faith in Place
Administered by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134 in Chicago (IBEW 134), this program seeks to provide apprenticeship participants with the foundational knowledge necessary for a career within the solar industry and provide diverse low-income, minority, or economically disadvantaged populations with additional craft apprenticeship opportunities. The program will also encourage participants to achieve National American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) installer, associate, and/or sales certifications.
Under the Solar Craft Apprenticeship Program, IBEW Local 134 will:
(1) Implement solar training into existing apprenticeship programs at 17 other IBEW sites across state by September 2018
(2) Implement solar training at 6 Illinois community colleges in the following locations:
❖ Olive Harvey College (north of Pullman neighborhood in Chicago) - Fall 2018
❖ College of Lake County (Grayslake or Waukegan) - Fall 2018/Spring 2019
❖ Rock Valley Community College (Rockford) - Spring 2019
❖ Lincoln Land Community College (Springfield) - Spring 2019
❖ Southwestern Community College (Metroeast) - Fall 2019
❖ John Logan Community College (near Carbondale/Marion) - Fall 2019
(3) Implement a high school solar curriculum at six Illinois high schools in underserved neighborhoods throughout the State in order to create entry into a pre-apprenticeship program to be developed in partnership with IBEW Locals. Two Chicago area high schools have been selected to begin in September 2018 and will serve as templates for future high school programs:
❖ Benito Juarez Community Academy (Pilsen neighborhood)
❖ Prosser Career Academy (Belmont Cragin neighborhood)
➢ Fifteen students per school will be accepted into Local 134 pre-apprenticeship program starting in June 2019
➢ The pre-apprenticeship program consists of 6-12 months of field training with contractor (paid), which includes school for six of the Saturdays.
This program funds six community-based, diversity-focused organizations in the Chicago area to provide participants development, economic, or career-related opportunities. It offers the widest array of training, including in the technology sector and solar sales and marketing, in addition to offering existing business owners training for expansion. It targets individuals from diverse and/or underserved backgrounds.
In November 2017, the multicultural training grants were awarded to the following 6 organizations:
(1) Chicago Urban League
(2) Hispanic American Construction Industry Association
(3) National Latino Education Institute
(4) ASPIRA, Inc. of Illinois
(5) Chatham Business Association Small Business Development, Inc.
(6) Austin Peoples Action Center