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ComEd’s Job Training Program Honors Its Largest Graduating Class

A total of more than 200 CONSTRUCT participants have completed program aimed at increasing job opportunities for minorities in local neighborhoods throughout Illinois

CHICAGO (May 13, 2016) – ComEd, its labor partners, six social service agencies as well as its utility and construction business partners came together to celebrate 71 new 2016 CONSTRUCT Program graduates - the largest class to graduate since the start of the program in 2013.

CONSTRUCT is an 11-week job training program designed to address the construction industry's overall need to increase the pool of qualified minority candidates for construction jobs in Illinois. Career guidance, life skills training, and practical education about the construction industry are part of the program, as well as increased knowledge of requirements for entering construction-related fields successfully. 

To date more than 220 students have participated in the program and nearly 80 percent of graduates have been offered employment. "As we focus on the next generation of the energy industry, we must also build a workforce that is technologically skilled, innovative and is as diverse as the communities we serve," said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd.  "This program, spurred by ComEd's smart grid modernization program, has been very successful in placing graduates in career path jobs that provide financial stability and opportunity for growth."

Recent CONSTRUCT Program graduate, Koran Ward said, "I would recommend this program to anyone. It doesn't matter what you know because they teach you what you need to know to have a successful career."

CONSTRUCT is run in parallel at six community agency sites across the Chicagoland area including, ASPIRA of Illinois, Austin Peoples Action Center, Chicago Urban League, National Latino Education Institute, Quad County Urban League and YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago. These agencies help identify and train the program participants using various common eligibility and completion requirements, and are committed to working with each participant to provide job counseling and placement services.

Participating companies that support training a development and provide job opportunities include: ComEd, Nicor Gas, Aldridge, Asplundh, BarTech, Burling Builders, David Mason & Associates, d'Escoto, Inc., F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen, Groundhog Utility Construction Inc., HBK Engineering, Henkels & McCoy, Intren, Lindblad Construction Company of Joliet, LiveWire, Meade, Millhouse Engineering & Construction, Inc., MJ Electric, MZI Group, Nash Brothers Construction Company, Osmose Utilities Services, Peoples' Gas, PMI Energy Solutions, LLC, Trice Construction Company, The Roderick Group, USIC, V3 Companies and The Will Group are supporting this program.

"CONSTRUCT allows participants the ability to build a strong educational foundation and pursue a meaningful career, while strengthening communities and contributing to the economic growth of our state," said Pat Whiteside, vice president of Business Support, Nicor Gas.

"CONSTRUCT is a win-win for everyone," said Lori Flores Rolfson, vice president operations and maintenance for Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas. "The program helps participants receive valuable and practical training to expand their career opportunities. And it helps the sponsoring companies by creating a pool of qualified job applicants, which is especially important as a large portion of our workforce becomes eligible for retirement."

"I really wanted to see and be hands on what for we were expected to learn," said Novelis Gonzales, another CONSTRUCT program graduate.  "I really believe that if you have a dream, you have to go after it."

For some legislative leaders in Illinois, this special collaboration is a significant step toward addressing a long-standing need.

"CONSTRUCT is an example of the kind of corporate citizenship that can have long-term impacts on communities for many years to come," said State Representative Elizabeth Hernandez. "I applaud every company and agency involved for making these important investments in people's lives."

"I commend ComEd and all the companies that have participated in CONSTRUCT to bring early construction career training to men and women in the Chicago area," said 6th Ward Alderman Rod Sawyer. "The participants are finding opportunities to work at utilities and construction companies. These are jobs they may not have considered or been qualified for without the training."

Understanding the need to help remove barriers to entry for construction-related fields, CONSTRUCT launched in May 2013 out of a partnership between ComEd, Intren and the labor unions. What began with ComEd, its labor partners, 10 companies and three social service agencies has grown to include Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas, 25 companies and six social service agencies. CONSTRUCT is part of CareerPower, ComEd's set of jobs initiatives. IBEW locals 9, 15, 134, 196, and the Laborers' District Council of Chicago & Vicinity have voiced their support, and have been critical in the ability to move the program forward.

To complete the program, participants must attend at least 95 percent of all full class days and have taken select tests, among other things. Upon completion of the program, participants can choose any number of career paths, from applying to work with the participating companies and satisfying any applicable union requirements, to applying to ComEd or employers in other sectors. While completion of the program does not guarantee a job, individuals who finish the program are considered qualified, knowledgeable, and ready to compete for construction jobs in Illinois.

With a focus on driving Illinois' clean energy future and creating more jobs in Illinois, ComEd and Exelon recently proposed the Next Generation Energy Plan (NGEP) a comprehensive legislative bill that will help save and create thousands of jobs, deliver clean energy, double energy efficiency, jumpstart solar development in Illinois, and provide for $1B in low-income programs.

For more information on CONSTRUCT, please visit ComEd.com/CONSTRUCT. Anyone interested in applying should contact the agencies directly. The agency contact numbers are:

ASPIRA of Illinois -773-252-0970, Austin Peoples Action Center -773-378-8760, Chicago Urban League - 773-285-5800, National Latino Education Institute -773-247-0707, ext. 223, Quad County Urban League - 630-851-2203, ext. 222, YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago - 773-955-3100.

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Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 10 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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