New Power Up Academy designed to level the playing field, bring more women and minorities into technical careers supporting the clean energy transition in Illinois
CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–ComEd today joined workforce partners and members of the community in celebrating the first graduating class of the 10-week Power Up Academy, a new career training program launched in partnership with local workforce agency Revolution Workshop to prepare job seekers for entry-level technical related roles to support the clean energy transition in Illinois.
With the clean energy transition poised to create as many as 150,000 new jobs in Illinois by 2050, ComEd is focused on creating and supporting career training programs to ensure all communities have access to these new, family-sustaining careers. Training through the Power Up Academy is designed to boost the pipeline of talent for in-demand technical roles that will be needed to support the most reliable grid in the nation, as well as the fast growing clean energy sector in Illinois, without requiring a college degree.
“The clean energy future is here – and it requires a sharp and diverse workforce to meet the demand for growing EVs, solar and clean tech, while also maintaining ComEd’s best in the nation reliability,” said Louie Binswanger, SVP of governmental, regulatory and external affairs at ComEd. “Programs like the Power Up Academy are ensuring more of our diverse communities from across northern Illinois are first in line for good paying jobs supporting the clean energy transition – those that will not only support a modern grid, but that will make a lasting difference in creating cleaner futures for our communities.”
Power Up Academy’s inaugural 15 graduates reflect the diversity of ComEd’s service territory, nearly 90 percent of which are people of color, and more than half women. New training programs like the Power Up Academy are advancing the development of a strong and diverse talent pipeline, which includes more women and minorities who have been historically underrepresented in STEM fields nationally.
“At Revolution Workshop we work tirelessly to ensure that the abundance of talent within Chicago’s underserved communities does not go unnoticed,” said Manny Rodriguez, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Revolution Workshop. “Our collaboration with ComEd and partners has built a new pathway for area jobseekers to play a technical role in combatting the effects of climate change, which have disproportionately affected underserved areas, while gaining the skills necessary to fill the growing number of rewarding jobs in clean energy.”
As part of ComEd’s continued commitment to expanding career opportunities to women and people of color in both the energy sector and the world of STEM, ComEd teamed up with program administrator Revolution Workshop to recruit local candidates with diverse backgrounds for training in the technical services. The Power Up Academy is providing area men and women the training and certifications to qualify for roles that have historically required an engineering college degree.
Over the course of the program, participants gained industry knowledge, spatial aptitude, and skills working with AutoCAD, a computer-aided design (CAD) software that is a typical qualification for entry-level technical roles supporting the grid, including but not limited to: design tech, project coordinator and permitting analyst. Through ComEd’s collaboration with educational partner, the City Colleges of Chicago, participants also received the Certified Project Management Certificate, an industry-wide pre-requisite test, putting them steps closer to career readiness for the energy fields.
“During the program, I gained certification in skills typically only available to college students such as AutoCAD, project management, and financial literacy. I was even provided the opportunity to interview with leading engineering firms and was supported by ComEd and Revolution Workshop to make sure I was ready and confident to pass those interviews,” said Kala Wheeler, Power Up Academy graduate. “The Power Up Academy has given me the tools to directly support the electrification revolution happening here in Illinois.”
At the conclusion of the program, ComEd and corporate partners, Burns & McDonnell, HBK Engineering, KDM Engineering, Milhouse, Primera Engineers, and V3 held a job fair offering on-the-spot interviews with a goal of connecting program participants to positions aligned with technical skillsets after graduation. ComEd and sponsoring companies are expected to extend employment offers to qualifying participants.
“The challenges ahead – whether it be climate change, technology advancements or work to support the rise in renewables – all call for innovation as well as the expansion of opportunities in what’s historically been a male dominated field,” said Erin Imman, CEO of Primera Engineers, a local, woman-owned engineering firm. “The ComEd Power Up Academy program is an important lever in developing a pipeline of future talent that will be needed as ComEd and firms like ours think ahead and prepare our infrastructure to withstand today’s challenges and provide stability for many years to come.”
The Power Up Academy program is just one of ComEd’s latest investments to boost job training opportunities that connect local communities with roles in the growing clean energy sector – including the more than 150 new engineering roles ComEd plans to add in the next two years. Collectively, ComEd’s job training, apprenticeship, and youth education programs reach 2,000 local residents each year. To learn more about ComEd’s career readiness programs, please visit www.comed.com/cleanenergyjobs.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 250 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 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, Instagram and YouTube.
ComEd Media Relations