Tollway aims to boost minority jobs by teaching construction skills

  • The tollway wants to increase the diversity of its labor force with a job-training program.

    The tollway wants to increase the diversity of its labor force with a job-training program. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 10/19/2016 4:49 PM

With 10 years remaining in its $12 billion road-building program, the Illinois tollway intends to start training workers to help finish the job.

The aim is to increase the number of minorities working on tollway projects through a center teaching construction-related skills, officials said at a meeting Wednesday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The program is in the early stages, with diversity department planners still figuring out logistics, including funding. About $400,000 is allocated for 2017, although several tollway board directors advised staff members to budget for more.

A 2015 tollway study concluded that blacks, Hispanics and women are underrepresented compared to whites when it comes to construction contractors and professional firms hired by the agency.

"One thing we hear as we try to get more minorities involved (in road construction) is that they're not trained," Chairman Bob Schillerstrom said. "We want to put together a training center for these individuals so they can come into the construction trades and have a career ... have a sustainable job and support their families."

Training offered could range from electrical work to cement finishing, Schillerstrom said.

The agency intends to hire an outside firm to help establish the training center and wants to collaborate with colleges, unions and government agencies on the project, Schillerstrom said.

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