Published In May 2001
To battle a critical shortage of professional electrical and technical workers, the organized electrical construction industry is taking aim at every high school in the country with an unprecedented recruiting campaign. "Although most young people today are wired into high tech, too few are exploring the technical side of electrical and electronic careers," said John M. Grau, chief executive officer of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). "The U.S. desperately needs skilled electrical and technical workers to equip buildings for the technology age. Students and guidance counselors need to take a closer look at these promising careers outside the traditional four-year college track." To start, NECA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) have blanketed 30,000 high school and vocational guidance counselors with "Career Action Kits" detailing the high-paying jobs and outstanding training opportunities available through their National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) apprenticeships in electrical construction. The kits contain career map posters, brochures, background materials, and two interactive CD-ROMs. One CD-ROM covers the specifics of four different NJATC apprenticeships; the other catalogues 59 different occupations in the electrical and high-tech cabling industry. NJATC apprentices typically earn $80,000-$150,000 over their training period. Upon graduation, they can expect to enter the job market earning $50,000-$70,000 a year, depending on their specialty and location. Over the next decade, NECA-IBEW officials estimate they need 100,000 additional electrical and IT system installers to meet the wiring and cabling needs of business and industry. "The demand for electrical and IT professionals will be red hot for years to come," says IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill. "Add that to the income, college credits, and training benefits of an NJATC apprenticeship, and you've got a winning recipe for a well-paying professional career."