Young women graduating from Philadelphia area high schools have a better shot at careers in the electrical industry, thanks to a PAsmart grant awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.
Apprenticeship Training for the Electrical Industry (ATEI) serves as the training arm for IBEW Local 98 and the Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter of NECA. Together with Pennsylvania-area public schools, ATEI established a pre-apprenticeship program for young women called Rosie’s Girls. The name harkens back to the iconic Rosie the Riveter figure representing women from World War II who went to work in the trades while men were away at war.
The $394,383 state grant received in summer 2022 enables Rosie’s Girls to be administered free of charge for the next three years to 11th and 12th graders in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. It also provides funding for job fairs and career events where students can learn more about career pathways in the construction industry and electrical field.
Based on response to social media postings and career fair attendance by students and parents, Teila Allmond, pre-apprenticeship coordinator for ATEI, said, “There’s been a lot of excitement about this, and huge want for this program. One parent even wanted to know more about the career possibilities for herself!”
Women typically enter electrical apprenticeship programs about nine years later than men, at age 27, according to a survey by the University of Oklahoma’s Lemon Construction Science Division.
“With Rosie’s Girls, the idea was to reach women at a younger age and to introduce them to career possibilities they might not otherwise realize,” Allmond said.
Reaching girls earlier also makes sense because high school is when many begin formulating career paths. They and their parents may be considering college educations, Allmond said, but the pre-apprenticeship offers the chance to consider the apprenticeship model, which enables people to learn while earning and not be saddled with college debt.
As of spring 2023, five students had completed the Rosie’s Girls pre-apprenticeship pilot. More are expected to enter the program in 2024.
“The program is taught by female instructors and journeypersons,” Allmond said. “That’s important because students get to see women operating in the industry and realize it’s possible for them to have a career with family-sustaining wages.”
The 60-hour program contains nine study and hands-on training modules. It covers an array of topics related to the electrical industry, including safety, electrical systems, tools and materials, terminology, splicing, conduit bending, cable pulling, algebra essentials, how to read a scale, measuring, types of telecommunications and construction design using Trimble and BIM.
Participants are provided with proper tools and equipment for tasks they perform. Those who complete the coursework come away with OSHA 10 and First Aid/CPR certifications.
“The safety training alone increases their chances of employment beyond minimum wages after high school graduation,” Allmond said. Best of all, students gain the benefit of expedited application to electrical apprenticeships.
Header image: Representatives for Rosie’s Girls, a pre-apprenticeship program aimed at attracting women to the electrical industry, stand from left: Mark Lynch Jr., IBEW 98 business manager; Elaine McGuire, journey-level worker and IBEW 98 member services representative; Teila Allmond, ATEI 98 pre-apprenticeship coordinator/instructor and journey-level worker; and Bryan Meyers, ATEI 98 director. Photo provided by IBEW 98.