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Legislation promoting equal opportunity in apprenticeship programs now law

8/5/2019, 10:16 p.m.

Springfield - A new law backed by state Rep. John Connor, D-Lockport, will expand access to apprenticeship programs and ensure all have a pathway to high-paying careers.

"Illinois has a shortage of skilled workers. This makes us less competitive as a state to those businesses requiring skilled workers, and I want to strengthen Illinois by training Illinoisans for the skilled jobs that lay the foundation for good careers," Connor said. "This legislation will create opportunities for all Illinoisans to learn a trade and help fill Illinois' shortage of skilled workers."

Connor backed Senate Bill 534, which creates the Bureau on Apprenticeship Programs within the Department of Labor. The bureau will be responsible for increasing minority participation in apprenticeship programs by identifying and eliminating potential barriers to entry. Connor's legislation also increases what percentages of state contracts are required to go to businesses owned by minorities.

"The cycle of poverty can be broken through education and training, and the opportunity to work a good-paying, practical job should not be a privilege some communities are excluded from," Connor said. "Right now, some Illinoisans have limited access to the training required for skilled jobs, just because of the color of their skin or their gender. We need to do everything we can to nurture economic growth in minority communities. Inequality didn't start in a vacuum, it started in how people chose to treat each other based on their differences; and it won't fix itself until we choose to change how we treat each other, despite our differences."