The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) has long been considered the voice of the $130 billion electrical construction industry that brings power, light and communication technology to buildings and communities across the United States.
NECA’s national office in Bethesda, Md., four regional offices, and 119 local chapters around the country support the electrical contracting industry through advocacy, education, research and standards development. NECA chapters are independently chartered organizations that work with national field representatives to develop effective labor agreements and market initiatives.
Throughout the year, NECA attempts to expand its reach in the electrical contracting industry. One example on a global scale is the work of ELECTRI International. In March, key industry professionals from Canada, Honduras, Mexico, Ecuador and the United States joined ELECTRI in Cartagena, Colombia, for the 11th annual Cross-Border Meeting. There, they met an impressive group of future leaders already working to make a difference in electrical contracting. In addition, Carlos Bonilla, manager of technical applications at 3M’s division of electrical markets, presented an overview of Colombia’s tourism, geography, economic reports and the state of construction.
Closer to home, NECA is reaching out to two groups in the so-called War for Talent: young people and women. By 2019, it is estimated that the projected shortage of skilled workers in the United States will reach 1.5 million, and bringing more qualified women and young people into the fold can make up that gap.
In fact, NECA has an initiative to recruit more women into the industry. Established in 2009, Women In NECA (WIN) provides a collaborative forum for women affiliated with NECA-member companies, chapters and Labor Management Cooperation Committees (LMCCs). WIN works to make NECA and the rest of the industry stronger by advancing women’s goals for professional growth. When a woman joins WIN, her company, chapter or LMCC directly supports her desire to be a successful employee and industry leader. This month, WIN members will come together for the eighth annual WIN Leadership Summit in Phoenix, where they can discuss the industry and focus on the issues that matter to them within NECA’s member companies and chapters. It is an opportunity to share information, experiences and encouragement in a supportive forum.
When it comes to attracting young people to the industry, NECA is at the forefront as well. We use strategies such as reaching out to high schools to reinforce the notion that apprenticeships are a good career option. NECA supports student chapters at universities that promote working in electrical contracting, and we regularly host events for job seekers.
We’re making progress every day. NECA will continue to expand its reach, attract the country’s top talent and take the electrical construction industry to new heights.
About The Author
David A. Hardt is the current president of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and contributes the President's Desk column monthly. He took office in January 2015 and will serve a three-year term.