The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) announced a new partnership with City Colleges of Chicago to expand the CTA’s successful Second Chance Program, an innovative initiative that provides valuable job skills and career opportunities to Chicago residents who often face challenges re-entering the workforce.
Through the partnership, City Colleges will provide new skills development and career training for Second Chance Program participants, which include nonviolent ex-offenders, victims of abuse and others who face barriers to employment.
Under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Second Chance program has quadrupled in size, becoming one of the largest programs of its kind in the country. The program has grown to 265 positions for bus and railcar servicers who clean and detail the CTA’s more than 1,200 railcars and nearly 1,800 buses, as well as rail station platforms and bus and rail yards.
Earlier this year, the CTA received a $750,000 federal grant to help expand diesel mechanic training as part of the Second Chance program — providing participants with a career skill that will see significant demand here in Chicago and across the country over the next decade.
The training for the Second Chance program participants will be provided by the Workforce Academy, a division of City Colleges providing fee for service customized, non-credit bearing, on-the-job training for Chicago area employers and their employees.
City Colleges is working with CTA to finalize the training based on the needs of CTA and the Second Chance Program. Training will be customized and contextualized for CTA and its areas of focus, and will include customer service for the transportation industry, core skills such as mathematics and problem solving, as well as technical skills in equipment safety. City Colleges also offers free GED high school equivalency courses, of which program participants can take advantage.
Since May 2011, more than 600 men and women have participated in the CTA program. One-hundred-fifty have been hired by CTA, and dozens more have moved on to other jobs, thanks to the experience they received in the Second Chance program. Of the 150 hired by CTA, five have moved up to manager-level positions.