Northwestern, Evanston release details about joint jobs program

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and University President Morton Schapiro discuss the new Workforce Development Program on Thursday. The initiative will provide campus construction jobs to Evanston residents.

Ciara McCarthy/Daily Senior Staffer)

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and University President Morton Schapiro discuss the new Workforce Development Program on Thursday. The initiative will provide campus construction jobs to Evanston residents.

Ciara McCarthy, City Editor

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Northwestern and Evanston officials released details at a press conference Thursday about a new program that will provide employment for Evanston residents on NU’s campus.

(Northwestern, Evanston collaborating on apprenticeship program)

In its first year, the Workforce Development Program will aim to provide 25 Evanston residents with either jobs or apprenticeship opportunities in construction projects at Northwestern. The University also committed to spend $1 million annually at local businesses to furnish newly constructed buildings.

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said she thought of the idea while biking near campus and looking at the many ongoing construction projects.

“I thought, ‘We need jobs working on those buildings,’” she said.

Tisdahl approached University President Morton Schapiro with the idea and said he was immediately receptive.

Schapiro expressed excitement Thursday to launch the latest feature of the burgeoning partnership between Evanston and the University.

“We are so strong when we’re together,” he said.

This will be the first time that Facilities Management will require construction contractors and subcontractors to strive to hire Evanston residents. Residents will apply to contractors directly, and the city will maintain a list of people qualified for construction jobs and apprenticeships.

A pilot phase of the program will be in full swing before the end of 2014 when the University undertakes several major construction projects. Residents will be invited to apply for the program in the coming weeks. City officials will review applications for the program.

Currently more than 1,700 Evanston residents work on campus, according to a joint news release from Evanston and NU. Until the launch of this program, contractors were not prioritizing the hiring of locals for construction jobs, Tisdahl said.

“These are not jobs Evanston residents are getting,” Tisdahl told The Daily in February.

The program’s inaugural class of residents is limited to just 25 because organizers want to get the program established before expanding, Tisdahl said. She added that she hopes to double the number of participants in the future.

“We are creating a better and better town-gown relationship as time goes on,” Tisdahl said. “I think we both intended to be a leader in town-gown relations and we’re working to have that happen.”

Email: mccarthy@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @mccarthy_ciara

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