CFL News
May 01, 2017

Access United Provides Greater Connection to Union Apprenticeship Programs

Access United Provides Greater Connection to Union Apprenticeship Programs

The Chicago Federation of Labor, in partnership with United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, CISCO, the Construction Industry Service Corporation, and the Chicago & Cook County Building & Construction Trades Council, launched Access United in April, an initiative to expand access to building trades apprenticeship programs to candidates from Chicago’s South and West sides.

Access United is designed to assist candidates with identifying, preparing for and applying to apprenticeship programs within the building trades unions throughout Chicago and Cook County. It uses a neighborhood-based model where established community partners of the United Way identify, screen and recruit candidates for union apprenticeship opportunities. These partners also coordinate supportive services to address the barriers individuals face in accessing employment, with recruitment programs currently running in the neighborhoods of Bronzeville, Austin, Blue Island, and Robbins.

Through the initiative, candidates receive information about apprenticeship programs, application processes and program requirements so that they can choose the career path that is best suited for their interests. Additionally, Access United provides tutoring resources to prepare applicants for apprenticeship aptitude tests and one-on-one case management to guide them through the application process. Resources are also available through United Way to cover apprenticeship application fees, union initiation fees and other costs associated with entering apprenticeships that can be a barrier for struggling individuals.

In the first few months, Access United has already had success assisting one candidate with joining the Carpenters’ apprenticeship program, and is working with 24 additional candidates, many of whom are preparing to apply for apprenticeship programs in the spring.