Architecture, Construction, & Energy Sector Analysis​

ACE Sector Overview

Key takeaways from the landscape analysis for the architecture, construction, and energy sector in the Chicagoland area:

  • Job Growth: Chicagoland Workforce Funders Alliance (CWFA) estimates there are 100,000+ construction trades workers in the region, with 11,000 new hires expected annually through 2026. (Construction Trades Guidebook, December 2020)
  • Green Jobs: According to the Solar Jobs Census 2019: Illinois, the Solar Foundation estimates that Illinois ranks 13th in the nation for the total number of solar jobs.
  • Union vs. Non-Union Pathway Opportunities: In the construction trades, hourly wages vary significantly for union and non-union positions. Non-union workers typically work for smaller contractors, on smaller projects. The starting hourly wage for non-union positions are typically close to minimum wage, while union trade apprenticeships start at a % of union journey worker wage. (Pathways in the Chicago-Area Building Trades, September 2020). 

Overview of Private Training Landscape

Based on Based on WIOA Programs and Chicagoland CareerPathways, private training is a complicated and competitive landscape:

  • Registered Apprenticeships: Prevalent due to union history and large building associations. High wages but many well documented barriers to entry.
  • Non-Profit Training: Front line of adult or displaced worker interactions, focused on delivering pre-apprenticeship-type content. Very few full robust trainers for non-union occupations or placements.
  • Colleges and Education Institutions: Some pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship content is embedded. Competing with private for-profit and non-profit programs.
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Recommended Improvement Strategies for ACE

Based on the landscape analysis, the EdSystems team proposes the following strategies to both prepare residents for living wage roles in the architecture, construction, and energy sector and meet labor market demands:

  • For success in new wave of green energy jobs, the industry must be thought of as extension of existing construction trades infrastructure and marketed as such. Green jobs are an extension of skills and competencies found in building construction and electrical training. Training grounded in traditional construction competencies with an added layer of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electrician fundamentals will increase maximum flexibility for middle-skill role seekers. CCC currently houses content/courses related to solar technology and energy efficiency in the Environmental Technology department at Wright College, under the focus area of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Trades and construction coursework, however, typically exist at Kennedy King College.
  • Due to barriers to entry and the highly competitive nature of union apprenticeships, expand programs leading to middle-skills roles on non-union construction (“master builder”) or support individuals towards roles in construction management.

ACE Priority Occupation and Promising Credential Areas

MIDDLE-SKILL CREDENTIAL AREA OCCUPATIONS TYPICAL ENTRY EDUCATION CHICAGOLAND WAGE $/HR CHICAGOLAND PROJECTED GROWTH (10 YR.) ANNUAL CHICAGOLAND JOB OPENINGS TERM
Construction Trades
Construction Carpenters
High School + On-the-Job Training
$33.51
-1.2%
1,261

Electricians
High School + On-the-Job Training
$45.69
1.9%
1,073

Brickmasons and Blockmasons
High School + On-the-Job Training
$43.46
1.1%
124

Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers
High School + On-the-Job Training
$37.85
1.0%
202

Painters, Construction and Maintenance
High School + On-the-Job Training
$24.25
-1.7%
447

Construction Laborers
High School + On-the-Job Training
$30.02
0.8%
1,538
Operating Engineers and Construction Equipment Operators
High School + On-the-Job Training
$39.41
-0.4%
396

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
High School + On-the-Job Training
$47.13
5.2%
682

HVACR and Weatherization
Heating and Air Conditioning Mechanics and Installers
Some College
$28.75
3.9%
303

Construction Management
Construction Managers
Some College
$57.41
1.2%
494

Cost Estimators
Some College
$37.92
1.8%
211

Construction and Building Inspectors
Some College
$36.96
1.2%
147

ACE Pathway Progressions