To Meet the skilled workforce needs of the electrical contracting industry, NECA and the IBEW sponsor comprehensive apprenticeship and training programs for future electrical workers, as well as continuing education and training programs for journey-level electricians, linemen, and telecommunication technicians/installers.
Apprenticeship training has been a part of the organized electrical construction industry since as early as 1891. That year the “National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers” union adopted a constitution at its first convention that established an apprentice training system requiring the apprentice to work for three years under a journeyman’s supervision before being admitted to membership . The training program was expanded considerably over the years with the addition of structured course work and requirements to pass written examinations.
When NECA and the IBEW began to work together in earnest, the program gained greater effectiveness. In 1941, following passage of the Federal Apprenticeship Training Ace, joint co-operation produced the National Apprenticeship Standards for the Electrical Construction Industry. By 1952, the organizations agreed to appoint a full-time director to administer a training system that would eventually evolve into the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee.
Today, more than 300 training centers around the U.S. are jointly operated by NECA chapter and their corresponding IBEW local unions. Apprenticeship recruitment efforts are made on a national, regional, and local level, with local joint apprenticeship committees reviewing program curricula and accepting applications for apprenticeship. Apprentices are usually “indentured” to receive the on-the-job portion of their training through employment with local IBEW-signatory electrical contractors. Apprentices who successfully complete their training and exams are referred to as “journeymen”.
While the content of apprenticeship programs may vary from area to area, the curriculum is, for the most part, developed through the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee. As the training arm of the organized electrical construction industry, the NJATC is completely funded by the IBEW and NECA, without any governmental assistance.
NJATC courses are developed in conjunction with industry experts. Training partners from electrical manufacturers often assist in preparing the course material, serving as instructors or providing demonstration equipment for hands-on learning in JATC classrooms. The apprenticeship programs for electricians, linemen, and technicians are all multi-year and involve classroom instruction and extensive on-the-job training. All NJATC programs are registered with and certified by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training (BAT).
Each year, more than 30,000 apprentices undergo IBEW-NECA training. And each year, more than 50,000 journeymen return to the classroom to upgrade their skills through courses on telecommunications, fiber optics, programmable logic controls, safety, the National Electrical Code, and much more. These numbers make NJATC the world’s largest construction training organization.
The NJATC is a permanent, on-demand resource for NECA contractors and their employees. Most of its programs can be brought to local IBEW-NECA collective bargaining areas where demand warrants. NECA contractors can also send personnel to the NJATC’s International Training Center in Knoxville, Tennessee for specialized training as the need arises.
The training center, which was established in-cooperation with the University of Tennessee, is open year round to provide as-needed training for contractors and their employees and for the preparation of an outstanding corps of instructors to deliver NJATC-developed training programs around the country. It is also the home of the NJATC’s National Training Institute, an annual event held each summer which offers a trade show combined with cutting-edge technical training programs for contractors and their key personnel.
Electrical contracting employees are ht focus of other NECA training programs, as well. Business, technical, and project management courses are offered through NECA’s Management Education Institute, www.necamei.org, in subjects such as electrical project supervision, estimating, productivity, and succession planning. NECA also publishes materials for employers to use in their own training programs.
Construction management and engineering skills are highly desirable in today’s job market. NECA’s student chapters at universities and colleges are also important in developing the next generation of electrical contractors. Many NECA contractors offer internships to college students interested in construction career.