All over the country, our industry faces one common challenge: we do not have enough skilled workers to take on the projects in front of us. This has been a concern for many years, and it has only grown in its urgency as the number of people retiring in our field surpasses those who are just beginning their electrical careers.
All of us in electrical construction know that we are part of an innovative, forward-thinking industry, and it provides a path to a long, fruitful and rewarding career. However, we know we face preconceived notions about the trades when reaching out to younger folks, and it is on us to ensure our message gets to those who will benefit from it.
One key piece of this mission is diversity, equity and inclusion. For our industry to be the best it can be, we must open our doors to everyone, regardless of background. So many people, no matter their gender, race, age, etc., can be valuable contributors to electrical construction and they might not even know it. I encourage you to think about how you can reach out to young people of all backgrounds—or even those that aren’t that young—and show them that they are welcome (and needed) in our industry.
Workforce development continues to be an area of focus for NECA. We have joined with the IBEW for a joint NECA-IBEW workforce recruitment task force. This group has identified multiple areas of the country where this is a particularly pressing issue, and it is developing solutions.
Additionally, NECA CEO David Long has been appointed to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship. Our apprenticeship programs produce the best electrical professionals in the country, and we are working with national leaders to spread the word far and wide. We know the next generation of electrical construction leaders is out there—we just need to go find them.
So, think not just about the future of your company, but the future of our entire electrical industry, and how you can help with the cause of workforce development.