A study from Voices for Illinois Children found that 20 percent of Illinois workers are employed in minimum wage jobs, which currently pay $8.25 an hour. For many Illinoisans, that makes supporting a family arduous, if not impossible.

But all hope isn’t lost. In 2017, the union construction trades in the Chicago metropolitan area forecast more than 2,500 new apprenticeship opportunities. To connect workers to well-paid jobs with benefits and room for career growth, United Way has partnered with local labor organizations to create Access United.

What is Access United?

A combination of training and job counseling, Access United helps potential workers learn all the aspects of a new trade. Our partners at the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL), the Construction Industry Service Corporation (CISCO) and the Chicago Building Trades Council help make that happen.

In addition, Access United is especially interested in reaching people of color, women and opportunity youth.

At an information session in Bronzeville, Nicole Carter, coordinator of the Greater Bronzeville Neighborhood Network, noted that “landing a union job can be tricky.”

“Access United is an excellent opportunity to give individuals who are typically underrepresented in the trades an easier pathway,” she said.