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The NECA-IBEW team has a great partnership with the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, its apprenticeship training arm.

The NJATC is responsible for turning out the most highly trained, highly skilled apprentices in the entire electrical industry.

The NJATC divides the country into smaller geographical areas and then sets up local training centers. This may not come as news to some of you – what may come as news is that some of these areas aren’t exactly local – in fact, it’s not uncommon for an apprentice to drive hundreds of miles to attend class.

A solution had to be developed to maximize classroom time in the most efficient manner possible.

That solution is blended learning – a mix of internet-based instruction and traditional, face-to-face class time.

It’s the first of its kind in the nation, and it’s turning the heads of owners who demand the very best from their labor force.

Training, the most important part of a lineman’s toolbox, is taking a giant leap forward thanks to the NJATC, and one of their platinum training partners, Cengage Learning.

Greg Clayton, VP, Cengage Learning
“The most recent innovation that we’ve made, along with the NJATC, is the blended learning solution for the outside line construction program. And this has just launched, recently, January 1, 2009.”

Blended Learning is a new, two-tiered approach to the training of IBEW apprentices. Including online tests, workbooks, flash-based animations and more, the program relies on Internet technology to bring students and instructors together across long distances, helping them learn at their own pace, and helping the instructor target lessons to get the maximum benefit out of class time.

Taryn Zlatin, executive marketing manager, Cengage Learning
“And the true benefit of the online component is to save time for both the instructors grading workbooks and also for the students.”

Saving time is important for JATCs and apprentices in the outside lineman program. More time on the pole, and less time in the classroom, means a more confident journeyman in the future.

Tom Halpin, president Halpin Line Construction
“It is going to produce a better apprentice and a better lineman just because it’s going to assist our trainers and our instructors in not spending so much time on paperwork but allowing them to be out in the field where the real training happens sometimes, where the rubber meets the road.”

The trick, according to instructors and training directors, is maximizing that experience, especially when each outside JATC attracts apprentices from a large geographical area.

Jason Iannelli, training director, Northeastern JATC
“The way our training was set up for such a large jurisdiction was that on the average the guys could travel anywhere from 15 minutes to 4 hours to get to class.”

Greg Clayton, VP, Cengage Learning
“They’re called area-wides for a reason. They’re drawing their apprentices from a large geographic territory. And some of them cover many states and these apprentices are from all over the place. And their time meeting in person is very, very valuable time.”

The NJATC and the NECA-IBEW team have been successfully training electrical apprentices for 60 years. This new step demonstrates their commitment to a smarter, better-trained workforce, centered on safety and the owner’s bottom line.

Taryn Zlatin, executive marketing manager, Cengage Learning
“This is really cutting edge for the IBEW, for NECA, and for the NJATC because they don’t have to change right now. Nothing forced them to go in this way and they really had to say, you know what, it’s very visionary to say, you know what, this is where we think it’s headed and we want to be on the cutting edge of that.”

Jason Iannelli, training director, Northeastern JATC
“It helps their bottom line if they’re having less accidents because the individual is better trained. If they’re being able to bid more competitively because they know they have all the skill sets available to man that job and they need less men, in this day and age time is money.”

The emphasis that union linemen and contractors place on training and apprenticeship sets them apart from their non-union counterparts.

Steve Anderson, director outside curriculum and training NJATC
“Well, training is important for all the craftsmen in the industry, it really separates us from others out there that are trying to do this job. And when we send out an IBEW-NECA trained individual, or an individual that has gone through our program, training is an integral part of the overall lineman.”

Owners of these projects can rest assured that when they hire the NECA-IBEW team, they’re getting the best-trained workforce. Blended Learning is contributing to that legacy.

Greg Clayton, VP, Cengage Learning
“I think that’s the biggest advantage that an employer should know that these are going to be the best-trained individuals in the industry, through this apprenticeship program.”