The electricity transmission industry is poised for unprecedented levels of growth in the near future. Aging transmission infrastructure needs replacing. New power generation technologies, like solar and wind, needs to be tied into the grid. And existing infrastructure needs updating to accommodate the smart grid revolution.

According to the United States Energy Information Administration, annual investment in privately owned transmission infrastructure, including transmission lines and switchgear, increased from $2.7 billion in 1997 to over $14 billion in 2012. Similar increases are occurring in public transmission line spending. This trend is expected to accelerate as population growth, increased electricity demand and energy marketplace changes increase strain on the distribution system.

Keeping the existing network running smoothly requires the dedication of thousands of men and women across the nation. Adding new capacity and upgrading the grid requires many more workers to support the installation and maintenance of new infrastructure. These workers need special skills and training to keep more than 500 million miles of distribution lines running smoothly.

NECA-IBEW is committed to meeting the demand for skilled electrical workers. The National Electrical Contractors Association and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers leadership identified the looming skills shortage and have taken proactive steps to ensure highly skilled workers are available to meet the need.

One way the NECA-IBEW partnership helps satisfy demand for skilled workers it by taking responsibility for training new workers. NECA-IBEW founded The Electrical Training Alliance to oversee the development and delivery of industry leading training programs to new and existing workers. NECA and IBEW invest over $100 million annually into the training alliance to support development and delivery of apprentice training and continuing education programs. Since its inception in 1941, the training alliance has helped 350,000 apprentices along the path to becoming journeymen.

As part of their efforts to maintain a leading edge program, the Electrical Training Alliance recently developed a blended learning model, adopting advanced teaching tools and technologies, to improve access to skills training and to ensure timely delivery of quality curriculum from coast to coast.

NECA-IBEW hosts regular meetings of stakeholders from across the nation, such as the annual Outdoor Line Conference, to provide opportunities for educators, contractors, journeymen and equipment suppliers to gather and discuss improvements to the curriculum, share best practices and ensure a stream of qualified journeymen and women are available to keep the electrical grid running smoothly.

Improving our nation’s electrical grid takes more than money. It requires the skills and commitment of thousands of electrical works. IBEW-NECA is working hard to train the men and women needed to keep our power flowing.

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