NEWS FROM THE NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION
Electrical Industry Finds Ways to Meet Growing Need for
From meetings with high school counselors to redesigned Industry Nights, NECA and the IBEW are working to find qualified apprentice
candidates to enter the electrical industry.
Youngtown Area Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training
Committee director Ed Emerick recently gave a presentation
on the benefits of organized building trades apprentice programs to Mahoning County high school guidance counselors
with peers from the Plumbers and Pipefitters and the Builders
It made an impact.
“It was a unified message about encouraging the right
students to learn more about, and apply for, union apprentice-
ships,” Emerick told NECA-IBEW Electricians in Ohio. “The
right people were in the room, and judging by the questions
they asked and the comments they made afterward I think we
hit the right notes with them. They’re one of the conduits to
us filling the pipeline of work we have available right here in
the Mahoning Valley.”
Jack Savage, Executive Director of NECA’s Mahoning Val-
ley Chapter, stresses that it’s more than just a higher number
of applicants that they are after. “About a year ago, we made
obtaining a high quality of apprentices our main marketing
focus, and these counselor events have been phenominal in
helping us meet that goal.”
Mahoning Valley is not alone waging the so-called War for
National Electrical Contractors Association managers and
member contractors around the country are realizing the
great need to re-establish a presence and relationship with
local school counselors. Beyond participation in local career
day activities, NECA works with the IBEW and through the
electrical training ALLIANCE to revisit outreach and development of partnerships with local schools, particularly vocational
technical high schools and colleges.
NECA is working to address the current and growing need
for skilled workers. One trend points the way: By 2019, it is estimated that the projected shortage of skilled workers in the U.S.
will number 1. 5 million.
“Our industry can’t grow without increasing the number
of skilled workers needed to perform the work,” NECA CEO
John M. Grau said. “The War for Talent is a battle we intend
to win. It’s a top priority for NECA and one we are committing
considerable resources to.”
One strategy that NECA is utilizing is hosting Industry
Nights. While not a new concept, the focus and emphasis has
narrowed in purpose and intent. In the past, The Interna-
tional Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and NECA chapters
approached Industry Nights with more of an “open house” feel.
In late 2015, the purpose and intent changed to specifically
focus on finding skilled workers in larger numbers. The “new”
Industry Night provides more of a job fair with NECA members
present at the event to represent the industry and share facts
about electrical careers. They also conduct interviews and, in
many cases, make job offers on the spot.
“Redesigning Industry Nights to carry the intent and purpose of a job fair jointly sponsored by the IBEW membership
development team and NECA contractors is crucial to finding
skilled workers new to our endeavors,” said Kevin Tighe, Director of Workforce Development, who has studied workforce
development in the electrical industry.
The IBEW Membership Development team has an extensive network geared toward outreach and marketing of these
events. The efforts of the groundwork laid by the IBEW have
historically ensured attendance numbers desired for these outreach events. Along with the changing demographics of skilled
workers, additional methods for reaching a tech-savvy prospec-
Mahoning Valley-area guidance counselors test their
knowledge of building trades apprenticeships.