February 2024

Apprenticeship IL 2023 Numbers




Active Apprentices

Total Employers

.Active Programs

Chair's Note

Sheryl Morris Headshot

The stats are in. The data is clear. For both employers and job-seekers, registered apprenticeships work. Did you know…

-      90% of apprentices who complete a Registered Apprenticeship retain employment.

-      Apprentice graduates earn more than $300,000 over their lifetime compared to peers.


However, the most compelling evidence for the impact of registered apprenticeships comes from apprentices themselves and their stories of transformation.


Alan Rodriguez, who grew up in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, was part of one of the first cohorts of the UHCHI Culinary Apprenticeship program. He is now a Chef de Partie at OVG McCormick Place, a leader in his union, UNITE HERE Local 1, and an Apprentice at United Center under the Levy brand. Said Alan, “Where I grew up, sometimes the environment didn’t promote following your dreams. Sometimes young people don’t understand what’s possible until their late twenties. With UHCHI, you realize you could turn this into a career. You have places to go from here.”


Alan is one of the over 20,000 apprentices in Illinois who have discovered that registered apprenticeship programs are a debt-free pathway to finding not just a high-quality job, but a life-long career.


Unburdened by student loans, apprentices receive best-in-class instruction in their chosen field, receive on-the-job training and ongoing mentoring, and earn competitive wages. Apprentices graduate with a credential in their field, which is portable to wherever they choose to go next in their career.


In 2022, Alan became one of Illinois's first Chef de Partie Journeyworkers. He is now one of only 11 Apprentice Ambassadors for the States’ inaugural Ambassador program. The Illinois Apprentice Ambassadors program mirrors the national program of the U.S. Department of Labor Apprentice Trailblazer Initiative. It aims to showcase the power of apprenticeship programs, highlighting individual apprentices and their stories.


Earlier this month, the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board Apprenticeship Committee hosted the 2024 Apprentice Ambassadors Kick-Off at Joliet Junior College. The 2024 class of Illinois Apprentice Ambassadors is a remarkable group of apprentices representing many industries, hailing from across our state. I am so proud to be part of this incredible initiative and honored to serve as the Apprentice Ambassador Workgroup Lead.


The Illinois Apprentice Ambassadors are champions for registered apprenticeship programs in Illinois on behalf of Governor J.B. Pritzker, appointed Illinois Workforce Innovation Board (IWIB). They are tasked with sharing their journeys and success stories, normalizing apprenticeships, and promoting apprenticeships to career seekers, educational institutions, and employers through community outreach, corporate engagement, personal networks, and other forms of engagement. I am grateful to the leadership of Illinois Workforce Innovation Board's Chair, Daniel Serota, and the Apprenticeship Committee for making this Apprentice Ambassador program possible, as well as the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, for funding this important and invaluable initiative. “Apprenticeships are the revitalization of the former vocational skills development that was offered in high schools more than 30 years ago.” -Julio Rodriguez, Deputy Director of the Office of Employment and Training (OET)

We are thrilled that this initiative will help youth and career seekers like Alan and his fellow Apprentice Ambassadors to share their stories and innovate around how to build a stronger Apprenticeship culture for the State of Illinois. We look forward to the work ahead of us in the coming months!


Sheryl Morris

Executive Director, UNITE HERE Chicago Hospitality Institute (UHCHI)

U.S. DOL Registered Apprenticeship

Apprentice Ambassador Workgroup Lead

Apprentice Ambassador Success Story

apprentice ambassador Kick-Off Event Group Photo

Daniel Serota and Sheryl Morris introduced the first-ever Apprentice Ambassador Kick-Off and shared their excitement to highlight individual stories of apprentices across the state to engage more employers to pursue apprenticeships at their businesses. The event was designed to allow ambassadors to meet others in their cohort, the committee staff, and other employers.


Daniel Serota opened the day of professional development through an overview of the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board (IWIB) and how the Apprenticeship Illinois Committee (AIC) fits within the IWIB.


Nisaini Rexach and Fabian Badillo from Microsoft gave an insightful presentation on the many uses of LinkedIn: how to build your brand, leverage Copilot AI to build your profile, and engage with the platform to maximize your reach to your intended audience. Ambassadors and staff alike came away with multiple actionable items to build their LinkedIn toolkit.


Julio Rodriguez gave a motivational speech on his journey to his position with the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO). He highlighted three qualities the ambassadors should strive for: credibility, collaboration, and commitment. He also advised apprentices to highlight their ability to think independently, problem-solve, work as a team, and never downplay the role of social capital in their career path.

Apprentice Ambassador Kick-Off Event

Antonio Gomez from the Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support (ICSPS) spoke on the importance of using stories when networking – that they help your listener to recall and emotionally connect with what you are saying. Using the Critical Storytelling Elements of CPR: Connect, Persuade, Recall (Matthew Taylor, University College), ambassadors practiced telling their stories using this framework.


Jordan Johnson (ICSPS) covered S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Based) Goals. Participants were divided into teams based on where they would like to see apprenticeship grow: Youth Involvement, Non-Traditional Students, and Employer/Community Engagement. Groups created initial S.M.A.R.T. goals relevant to their areas, summarized below:

  • Youth Involvement: expand AIC social media to target and engage youth.
  • Non-Traditional Students: contact employers via LinkedIn to pitch apprenticeships and explore opportunities to attend/host apprenticeship events for non-traditional students.
  • Employer/Community Engagement: create a shared database for members to share upcoming engagement events, resources, and leads with the rest of the cohort.

Kiersten Baer (ICSPS) demonstrated how ambassadors could transform nervousness into excitement as a public speaker. As an exercise, ambassadors had to sell an item to the rest of the group, resulting in multiple humorous presentations to close the end of the day.


Ambassadors were highly engaged and said they were pleasantly surprised at how relevant the topics were, especially the LinkedIn presentation. Jordan closed the session by showing ambassadors how to direct employers to to find their local Local Workforce Innovation Area (LWIA) Apprenticeship Specialist to begin the apprenticeship process.

Apprentice Ambassador Success Story

Kandis Draw

Senior Community Health Worker, Advocacy and Research | The HAP Foundation | Oak Brook, IL

The HAP Foundation threw an epic Community Health Worker (CHW) Summit on January 24th at The South Shore Cultural Center, shining a spotlight on social justice and health disparities. Apprentice Ambassador Kandis Draw, along with her dynamic duo Maureen Burns and Supervisor Kim Downing, orchestrated this sold-out event with over 250 eager attendees. Kandis rocked the show by moderating a Community Health Worker panel with various CHWs around the city, shedding light on The HAP Foundation Apprenticeship Program, and introducing the Keynote Speaker, the illustrious Reverend Dr. Ottis Moss III, Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ. Kandis gushed about the thrill of teaming up with all Black Owned Businesses like Sip and Savor Coffee Shop, Picnics in the Chi for decorations, and the culinary geniuses at Norms Bistro for catering. The summit was a hit, boasting 15 buzzing networking tables, a raffle, and a Grief Panel moderated by Reverend Morgan Dixon (Death Doula), complete with various faith leaders, including a Rabbi and Imam. “Our community health worker program is growing and expanding, and we want to partner with other community-based organizations to expand awareness of end-of-life care, with possibly hosting a similar event for CHW's next year.” – Kandis Draw, Apprentice Ambassador.


Kandis said, “It means a lot to me to see the vision that my team had come to pass. It was important to me that we do an event on the south side, and we highlight the faith aspect of end-of-life care.”


Rachel Telleen, Executive Director of Community Education and Workforce Development, The HAP Foundation says, “As one of The HAP Foundation’s first CHW apprentices, Kandis Draw demonstrates the power of apprenticeships in opening access to career pathways that may not start with a college degree. Having completed her apprenticeship, Kandis continues to grow as a leader in the CHW community in Chicago, Illinois, and nationwide. Her vision for The HAP Foundation's Inaugural CHW Summit exemplifies her passion for CHW advocacy and continuing education. We are proud to have Kandis on our team and to share her recent elevation to Senior Community Health Worker, Advocacy and Research.

Apprenticeship in the News!

  • How Apprenticeship Programs May Be the Best Solution to Today's Talent Crisis - Read More
  • Gateway Apprenticeship Hub Celebrates 100 Apprentices - Read More
  • ICC-led 'Employ Central Illinois' to help students get into apprenticeships, trade jobs - Read More
  • Congressman Krishnamoorthi's Town Hall on Getting a Good Job Without a College Degree - Watch Now
  • Bloomington-Normal Labor Leader Invited to White House, Laborers Local 362, 58 Apprentices - Read More
  • Apprenticeship Program improves skills of Lake County Youth-Service Leaders - Read More
  • Governor Pritzker Awards over $18 Million in Grant Funding through the Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program - Read More

Apprenticeship Significant Events

National Youth Apprenticeship Week Logo

MAY 5-11, 2024

Black History Month logo
women's history month

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