WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski announced that her guest for President Biden’s State of the Union Address will be Andrea Kelly of Decatur, Illinois. Kelly is a graduate of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) pre-apprenticeship program currently working as a Construction Wireman. Biden will address Budzinski, Kelly and the joint session of Congress on Tuesday, February 7th.
“At a time when too many Americans struggle to find good-paying jobs, thousands of well-paid positions lie unfilled due to a persistent job skills gap. We must do more to connect folks with training opportunities that will help them get ahead,” said Congresswoman Budzinski. “I’m excited to be joined by Andrea Kelly for my first State of the Union address – a young woman who shows us just how important apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs are to the economic mobility of our communities. I look forward to introducing legislation to support these programs in the coming weeks.”
“Pre-Apprenticeships offer a pathway to good paying union jobs and the middle class for workers,” said Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea. “Young people, like Andrea Kelly and her peers, across the country are the next generation of skilled workers who will build renewable energy facilities and rebuild our aging infrastructure. I am grateful to Congresswoman Budzinski for the bold steps that she is taking to invest in the future of a skilled and diverse workforce.”
Budzinski’s first bill will address the job skills gap by providing tax incentives to small businesses that hire apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship workers. Additional support for these programs will allow more women and people of color involved in the building trades – which support high paying jobs with good benefits.
Andrea Kelly is a Construction Wireman with IBEW Local 146.
A 2020 graduate from MacArthur High School in Decatur, Illinois, Kelly first applied for IBEW’s apprenticeship program while working at McDonald’s. The union directed her to the pre-Apprenticeship program, funded through DCEO’s Illinois Works and Youth Career Pathways programs that focus on disadvantaged populations, including minorities, women, and veterans. The pre-apprenticeship prepares participants with the skills necessary to compete for union apprenticeships, utilizing the North America Building Trades Union Multi Craft Core Curriculum and pays for students to gain on the job experience.
Kelly knew she wanted to be an electrician from the time she was in High School. The complexity and detailed work required first caught her attention when she saw light installed at PPG, now Fuyao Glass Illinois. Since completing the grant program, Kelly has been hired as a Construction Wireman and applied to be an IBEW apprentice. She will be initiated on February 14 as an IBEW member.