Chicago Transit Authority Offers Apprenticeships To Ex-Offenders

This isn't Donald Trump's version of "The Apprentice."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool announced Wednesday the Chicago Transit Authority has expanded its apprenticeship program for ex-offenders to offer temporary jobs to as many as 265 people. Emanuel and Claypool said the opportunity would let ex-offenders get valuable job training while helping the transit authority keep its buses and trains clean.

"We're targeting individuals who are non-violent ex-offenders who oftentimes have a tough time really breaking into the job market because of their criminal past," Claypool told NBC Chicago.

Thorough background checks will be completed as part of a pre-screening process, and only candidates convicted of non-sexual, non-violent and non-domestic violence-related criminal offenses will be considered.

Apprentice positions pay $9.50 an hour, and workers will be members of the Amalgamated Transit Union. Duties include platform servicing, bus and rail yard sweeping, rail car shop cleaning, general interior cleaning, and detailed exterior cleaning.

Claypool said the apprenticeship gives workers months of training and references for full-time work.

"Then they can go on and be placed for permanent jobs and help support their families in a legitimate way," Claypool said.

Those who perform "exceptionally" will be eligible to apply for a full-time CTA job or another apprenticeship. Emanuel said the program will help lower Chicago unemployment and increase self-sufficiency, "key priorities that will have long-term, valuable impacts on Chicago.”

When asked about the timing of the program during a period of U.S. unemployment, Claypool noted the CTA is hiring hundreds of new customer assistants and recently completed the hiring of 400 new bus drivers for the rebuilding of the South Side Red Line.

Bus apprenticeships assignments last up to a year, and rail apprenticeships are nine months.

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