Watch CBS News

Thousands of Chicago Public Schools students attend annual Skilled Trades Career Fair at McCormick Place

Chicago Public Schools students get closed look at skilled trades
Chicago Public Schools students get closed look at skilled trades 02:09

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Skilled trades are in high demand, from bricklaying to pipe fitting, and thousands of Chicago Public Schools students got the opportunity on Wednesday to learn all about them and their possible career paths.

In a world where TikTok stars and influencers seemingly get all the praise, Jesus Tapia has bigger and more realistic aspirations.

"I want to become an automotive engineer and work with cars," he said.

That dream for the sophomore at Air Force Academy High School on the South Side has come within striking distance as he soaked in a wealth of knowledge on Wednesday at the annual Chicago Skilled Trades Career Fair for CPS high school students at McCormick Place.

"Not a lot of places in the world – especially in Chicago – do you get these opportunities to learn more about your interest," he said.

More than 50 local employers, trade unions, and workforce agencies showcased their talents and the endless career opportunities waiting for CPS students.

"They have cars, they have mechanics, they have engineering, they have the medical field, they have everything you could do here," Samson Babarinde said.

For Kasey Underwood, a student at Foreman High School in Belmont Cragin, the fair sparked an interest she didn't even know she had.

"Types of machines that they use, normal people do not use for everything else, so I just realize that piping is more for me more than other construction. I'm gonna go into piping," she said.

The event, hosted by the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services and the Community Safety Coordination Center, catered to students living in communities with higher poverty and unemployment rates.

This opportunity – for most – is a game changer. Students who attend the fair are exposed to skilled trades like bricklaying and can sign up for training and internship programs.

In most cases, you have to be 16 years old. Students like Tapia were anxious to get started.

"Just try your best for your future. Our careers are what matters the most," he said.

The fair is expected to host roughly 3,000 students. It ends on Friday. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.