While digital technologies and online connectivity continue to change the way people interact, it’s hard to match the benefits of face-to-face meetings when it comes to problem solving, sharing best practices and renewing camaraderie within a group.

The Outside Line Conference shows that IBEW-NECA understands the benefits of in-person interaction. The Outside Line Conference provides a chance for industry leaders including management, journeymen, equipment suppliers, regulators and educators to come together to discuss issues and developments in the field of power transmission and distribution.

Front and center on this year’s conference agenda was developing strategies to respond to soaring demand for highly skilled electrical workers and linesmen. Significant investments continue to flow into grid infrastructure as the industry seeks to replace aging infrastructure and adopt smart grid technologies. These investments, including a recent $8.5 billion investment announced in April 2015 by Dominion Resources, are fueling demand for electrical workers. Conference participants discussed how to encourage more people to enter the profession, how to ensure consistent standards amongst new members and ways to recognize new members previous industrial experience to expedite their training and certification.

The conference schedule always includes a look at changing skill requirements, curriculum upgrades and how best to deliver training to new and existing IBEW members. This year’s discussions included development of safety training programs, introduction of a new rigging textbook, updates to the personal protective equipment textbook and revised medium voltage cable splicing instructions. Safety related training topics included introduction of a new crane certification course and an examination of recent changes to OSHA regulations and how to disseminate the new regulations to the membership.

Equipment vendors were at the conference to introduce new products designed to improve worker safety and/or productivity. This gave instructors a chance to learn about the new technologies and plan ways to teach IBEW members about these new tools.

Throughout its 44-year history, The Outdoor Line Conference has maintained its reputation as the premiere safety and training conference for the electrical transmission industry. The expertise and input provided by stakeholders participating in the conference focuses the skill development efforts of The Electrical Training Alliance (NECA-IBEW’s joint training initiative). The annual conference helps the Electrical Training Alliance maintain its industry leading curriculum and ensures IBEW-NECA members maintain their competitive advantage as the best trained, most effective electrical workers in the nation.

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