WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the award of a $1.3 million grant to the State of Illinois and Chicago Women in Trades to support the creation of equity plans and their adoption and increase women’s inclusion and equity in construction industry jobs. Funds will also allow Illinois to evaluate state and local workforce development programs for diversifying the clean energy and construction workforce.

Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su and Gov. JB Pritzker made the announcement in Chicago. They were joined by the department’s Women’s Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon. 

“To build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, we need a workforce that brings in all of America and this grant and others like it help to do just that,” said Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su. “The Department of Labor is working closely with our partners at the federal, state and local level to ensure that workers, families and communities that have historically been left behind will benefit from the once-in-a-generation investments of the Biden-Harris administration. I’m glad to be joining Governor Pritzker to make this announcement, which will bring more women workers into good jobs in the construction industry.”   

Administered by the department’s Women’s Bureau, the Tradeswomen Building Infrastructure grant focuses on the historic investments in Illinois and throughout the nation by the Biden-Harris administration in infrastructure, manufacturing and clean energy in the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. As investments continue, the grant will help ensure that women have pathways into higher-paying building trades’ pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships and construction careers, while supporting the investments in American infrastructure and clean energy. 

“I’m pleased that the Biden-Harris administration has recognized the hard work Illinois tradeswomen have put in for decades by offering support for the next generation of women training in a field that has for far too long excluded and underrepresented them,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This is another example of how infrastructure investment, and President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in particular, have uplifted entire communities through an equity-centric approach, and I’m proud Illinois continues to play a major part in that work.” 

Teams led by tradeswomen’s organizations will build equity plans, promote their adoption and guide programming to increase women’s inclusion and equity more quickly. Gender equity is an administration-wide priority.

“While women are half the U.S. labor force, they represent barely 4 percent of the skilled trades within the construction workforce,” said Women’s Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon. “This grant is an opportunity to flip the script to help more women gain access to these typically higher-paying jobs.”  

In addition to bringing state and local-level infrastructure, labor and workforce training agencies to the table with pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, contractors and building trades unions, the state of Illinois will work with Chicago Women in Trades to expand the parameters of their related work, which was initiated last year. 

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