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Workforce Training Hero Assumes New Identity

By Dennis F. Quebe | Sep 15, 2014
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The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) established the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training­ Committee (NJATC) in 1941. Dedicated to creating the best electrical workers in the world, it succeeded remarkably. Over the following 73 years, our NJATC became the largest apprenticeship and training program of its kind, training more than 350,000 apprentices to journeyman status—without imposing any cost on taxpayers—through hundreds of local affiliate programs.


Now something better has emerged.


The Electrical Training Alliance was created from the legacy of the NJATC. The name change reflects the reality of how our workforce training efforts have evolved and how our joint industry operates today. The NJATC has become, in effect, a diverse alliance of IBEW local unions, NECA electrical contractors, industry training partners and manufacturers, community colleges and universities, and public and private school systems.


Today, we have more than 300 IBEW/NECA joint apprenticeship training centers in the United States and Canada, with one or more in each state. No matter where electrical workforce preparation happens, on-the-job training—earning while learning—­is an essential element of apprenticeship.


Of course, the model of apprenticeship that our industry embraced years ago has changed. The NJATC developed uniform standards that are adopted and used nationwide to select and train thousands of qualified men and women each year, but now new National Guideline Apprenticeship Standards that provide greater latitude to local training centers are making an impact.


To elaborate, the core curriculum taught at each training center establishes the foundation of skills necessary to be an IBEW/NECA journey-level worker, but the advanced studies curriculum creates alternative training paths. The Electrical Training Alliance recognizes that being an electrician in rural Indiana is not the same as being an electrician in Las Vegas. That’s where the new blended learning approach comes in, whereby training centers can combine classroom teaching with the online delivery of some instruction. It provides those centers with opportunities to select advanced courses needed to prepare electrical workers to meet local market demands.


Enabling instructors and students to connect virtually through distance learning (also called distance education, dlearning, and D-Learning) is a similar concept. It’s a mode of delivering education and instruction, often through online courses, to students who are not physically present in a traditional setting. It can be delivered to one student at a time. Whether providing blended learning in the classroom or providing access to learning when the source of information and the learners are separated by time and distance, the goal is to leverage technology to improve our training outcomes.


My point is, considering all that is new and improved in electrical workforce training, the time was right for rebranding. Now, Electrical Training Alliance participants are working hard to spread the word that our restructured training efforts will better meet the needs of the electrical industry and our customers wherever they may be. We simply want to ensure our customers know and appreciate what stands behind each IBEW/NECA-trained electrical worker.


NECA was integrally involved in the restructuring process and remains a steadfast partner in electrical workforce training. 


“NECA looks forward to increasing our collaboration with the Electrical Training Alliance on technology solutions for training as well as the creation of content that spans the industry from apprenticeship to executive management,” said David Long, Electrical Training Alliance co-chair, NECA National Workforce Development Committee chair, NECA District 3 vice president, and president of Miller Electric Co., Jacksonville, Fla.


I share David’s enthusiasm, and the entire NECA organization shares his commitment.


I could go on and on about the Electrical Training Alliance, but I don’t have to. Whether you’re an electrical contractor, an electrical worker, or an electrical worker to be, you can find abundant information at www.electricaltrainingalliance.org.


Also, if you’re a NECA member attending NECA 2014 Chicago­ (Sept. 27–30), keep in mind that convention offerings include a high-level overview of the Blended Learning System debuting this year for all first-year inside apprentices in IBEW/NECA training programs. In addition, NECA will take a hard look at labor-relations issues in a special members-only session. I urge all NECA contractors to keep up with these important topics and to exercise your leadership in workforce training by getting involved with your local training programs.


Of course, I urge all industry participants, regardless of NECA affiliation, to take advantage of the dozens of learning opportunities offered at our big happening in Chicago. They are all dedicated to giving you “The Power to Shape Your Future.” That’s what superior professional development and networking does for a company. It gives you the power to shape the future of our entire industry!


About The Author

Dennis Quebe is a former president of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and contributed the President's Desk column monthly. He took office in January 2012 and served a three-year term.

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