Traditional college is not in the plans for everyone. For students interested in skilled trades and apprenticeship programs there is some potential good news. According to an annual survey from Manpower, jobs for skilled tradespeople are among the hardest to fill and the demand for qualified workers is rising and likely to become greater.

While there is some debate on the implications of a shortage of skilled labor, the survey does bring into consideration factors such as the rising age of workers in these fields, the need for continued investment in training and skills development and also raises concerns that wages are not reflecting this demand. Given the fact that American high schools have largely shifted their focus to preparing students for four-year colleges rather than vocational school, one thing that is clear is that skilled occupations will need an influx of new talent sooner than others.

For those high school seniors wanting to get on the fast-track to a lucrative, hands-on career where the demand for skilled workers will continue to grow, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) have some opportunities well worth considering.  Not only are these organizations constantly busy at the forefront of new construction and building technology, they also sponsor numerous educational and training programs through the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC). These programs are the modern, 21st-Century version of the time-honored trade apprenticeships of the Middle Ages and Renaissance you may remember from World History. These programs afford candidates the opportunity to learn valuable skills and advance one’s career while earning a living wage.

And there will always be demand for skilled electrical workers. One of the trends that is looming is the massive retirement of “baby boomers” who were born between 1945 and 1965. These people will be leaving the workforce over the next several years, and as young people have been pursuing white-collar professions that have been perceived as more lucrative and prestigious, there have been relatively few to take their place in skilled, blue-collar occupations that are necessary to maintain and build society’s basic infrastructure. This shortage is being felt acutely in the construction and electrical fields, even as the demands of new technologies grow exponentially; according to Manpower, Inc., between 20 and 35% of all electrical workers today are aged 55 and older. And, because these jobs can be physically demanding, these older workers will not necessarily be able to delay retirement.

Another positive aspect of a career in electrical design and construction is that as an electrical worker, you will enjoy the benefits and protection of one of the oldest, most stable and well-respected labor organizations in the world. While NECA helps to sponsor education and training and ensures that workers have access to the latest tools and techniques, the IBEW is a labor union with the power of millions of members, negotiating wages and benefits and establishing safety standards and working conditions. In fact, you may be interested to know that over the course of its 120 year history, IBEW workers have never once had to go on strike – a testimonial to its effectiveness. In addition, the IBEW as established a reputation for holding its members to the highest professional standards. This makes them the first people contractors call on when a project needs to be done.

A career in electrical construction and installation is one that will offer both challenges and job security for those willing to make the commitment. To see some of the exciting projects the NECA-IBEW team is involved in these days, check out the videos at

See how the JATC is preparing today’s skilled labor force:

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