The Crusader Newspaper Group

St. Paul Community Development Ministries Building Chicago’s Workforce of the Future

By A.L. Smith, Contributing Writer

Calling all job seekers! If you are interested in starting a new career or changing careers, but unsure if the traditional classroom setting is right for you, consider this: participation in an apprenticeship program could be an alternate path to reach your career, training, and employment goals. Apprenticeships use a ‘learn while you earn’ model, combining on-the-job training with classroom instruction, leading to earning a nationally recognized credential.

According to Reverend Kevin Anthony Ford, pastor of Bronzeville’s St. Paul Church of God In Christ (C.O.G.I.C.), and president of the nonprofit St. Paul Community Development Ministries (SPCDM), today more than ever apprenticeships are a proven successful career pathway for jobseekers.

The church-affiliated Southside apprenticeship program helps candidates achieve dynamic workforce opportunities; the SPCDM is committed to preparing young Black trainees to meet the changing demands of the workforce for today and the future.

According to an industry analysis of U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) 2021 data, it would take over 13 years for federal and state government-registered apprenticeship programs to educate the estimated 650,000 workers the construction industry needed to hire in 2022 alone. That’s a lot of potential jobs, especially in these challenging economic times.

The St. Paul Community Development Ministries (SPCDM) is excited to announce and invite all interested young people, their relatives, friends, and neighbors to attend its third ‘Constructing Your Brighter Future’ cohort class for 2022 and join others on a rewarding career path, with the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) Registered Apprenticeship Programs.

“Our priority is developing programs which provide industry-recognized credentials, which allows young workers to obtain good-paying, full-time jobs. We are also determined to increase equity, diversity, and inclusion of well-trained African-Americans, who are currently under-represented in the construction trades. Our goal? To develop a safe, skilled, and productive workforce,” says Reverend Ford.

This exciting St. Paul Community Development Ministries (SPCDM), 12-week Construction Training Initiative helps participants build a good-paying career in the construction trades industry. Through this apprenticeship instruction program, participants who successfully complete the course can find training programs as well as local work support services to develop skills for high demand roles, explore virtual job fairs, resources, available services, and register to receive alerts to the latest info on finding a job.


St. Paul Community Development Ministries (SPCDM) Program Executive Director Betty Jones urges everyone to “Take advantage of this convenient opportunity to learn more about these pre-apprenticeships and discover if they might be a good fit for you and your future career.”

She stresses, “the benefits of this apprenticeship training is that it helps in preparing a highly-skilled workforce – – like YOU, to meet the talent needs of Chicago employers across diverse industries. Come join us!”

Recent SPCDM program graduate Maurice Harris, is currently employed as a well-paid journeyman plumber. He feels blessed he answered the call to sign up for the program.

Harris, who is also a new Deacon at St. Paul Church, enthusiastically testifies about the positive, life-changing nature of the construction apprenticeship.

“This program is phenomenal, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. In addition to the excellent, immersive hands-on education, I was fortunately among intelligent and thoughtful people who, once they saw my dedication, fully supported my desire to have an enriched quality of life.”

Adds Harris, “I deeply admire the commitment of SPCDM to train local residents like me from communities hardest hit by the decades of disinvestment. And finally, and it is indeed a gift to be able to determine one’s own future economic destiny.”

The St. Paul Community Development Ministries (SPCDM) construction apprenticeship training program will provide participants with entry-level skills necessary to become plumbers, pipe fitters, carpenters, electricians, teamsters and more. Additionally, apprentices gain industry-recognized certificates, and financial assistance stipends are available.

In addition to offering construction apprenticeship training, the St. Paul Community Development Ministries (SPCDM) will provide a host of other employment opportunities, including hiring events, digital matching of skills and experience, employment mentorship and networking which helps local employers identify their future workforce. These collaborative efforts further assist with greater opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups.

“Today’s Registered Apprenticeships like St. Paul’s are undergoing significant revitalization and are being celebrated as a proven strategy that equips workers, especially those in underserved communities, with marketable skills sought across a variety of high-demand industries,” emphasizes Reverend Ford.

Currently in the U.S., over 808,000 people work as apprentices in the following high-demand industries: information technology, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, education, construction, transportation, cybersecurity, clean energy, financial services, and agriculture.

In Washington, D.C., the Biden-Harris administration has expressed its deep commitment to, and expanded focus on, Registered Apprenticeships which has helped advance more than 4,000 new programs, add 6,700 new participating employers, and led to employment opportunities from more than one million Registered Apprenticeships.

Interested persons who would like to further explore opportunities to elevate their future career can apply.

The available St. Paul Community Development Ministry (SPCDM) ‘Constructing Your Brighter Future’ Construction Apprenticeship slots are quickly filling up. Now is the time to register for this free opportunity for future success! Make your appointment as soon as possible.

Call Executive Director Betty Jones at 773.538.5120 or email: [email protected] for an appointment to attend the orientation/pretest sessions on Mondays or Tuesdays. More information is also available on the website:

The opportunity to join the apprenticeship program is a holiday blessing. The community applauds and supports the ultimate mission of the SPCDM, to provide inclusive and equitable opportunities for well-paying jobs to youth in our south and west side communities.

Reverend Ford, the driving force behind the SPCDM acknowledges “The invaluable legacy of this apprenticeship program is that it helps achieve workforce equity while perhaps even more importantly, disrupts generational poverty in Chicago.”


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