SPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) that will increase access to apprenticeship programs in the construction industry for African Americans was signed into law.

Jones's legislation creates the Bureau on Apprenticeship Programs within the Illinois Department of Labor and creates an advisory board of 12 legislators (three from each caucus, appointed by the caucus leader). The goal of the commission is to increase minority participation in apprenticeship programs.

“This law will ensure African Americans have equal access to apprenticeship programs so that they can earn a more suitable living wage,” Jones said. "Most importantly, this is the first step in providing a better foundation for minorities to obtain an exceptional career in the construction industry."

Illinois' workforce stands at about 6 million, and there are about 16,000 active apprenticeships in the 13 basic crafts in the state's 102 counties.

Senate Bill 534 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.