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It doesn’t “shock” those in the know that union electricians and contractors are the very best at what they do. But how do they get that way? What is it about the years of training electrical apprentices get that makes them so attractive to hire?

Well, the NECA-IBEW team joined up more than 60 years ago to form the NJATC, or the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee.

Together, NECA and the IBEW join to train apprentices in the latest and greatest technology – the technology that building owners and project managers are demanding in their job sites.

It’s all about the need to stay competitive during any kind of economy. And many of the manufacturers who make the tools they use are stepping up to the plate as well, committing their own resources to help the NECA-IBEW team help the owner.

We met up with members of the NJATC and their training partners during their annual training summit. Both sides talked about the importance of ensuring the partnership continues, and how to better train and retain electrical apprentices.

What it all means is that when you hire IBEW electricians and NECA contractors, your job gets done safely, on time and on budget.

Alison Sneed reports from Colorado Springs.

Steve Ratkovich, Executive Team, Klein Tools
“Anybody who’s ever been involved in training or education in any way enjoys that refreshing change of meeting new minds and being exposed to new ideas.”

So it was at the NJATC Training Partnership Summit, held recently at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. Members of the NJATC, training partners from companies all across the United States and Canada and contractors and trainers all got together to break bread, and break down the state of the electrical training industry.

Keith Avery, Sales Manager, Hamden Engineering Corp.
“The need for skilled labor is huge and it’s ongoing. One of the benefits to working with the NJATC is that we’re right out there on the cutting edge. These guys are doing things that education hasn’t got around to. What they do is they’re actually the driving force of education and it benefits us. It gives us a very good idea to where education is going.”

Michael Callanan, Executive Director, NJATC
“This is kind of the highlight of the season for us. We have over 110 partners and many of them join here with us each year at our Training Partner Summit. They work and talk about ways they can integrate their products, business, and solutions for the electrical industry with the IBEW-NECA and the NJATC.”

The NJATC itself looks at this annual event as an opportunity for everybody who has a stake in the training of electrical apprentices to get on the same page.

Bill Rieth, Director of Sales and Training, Salisbury Electrical Safety by Honeywell
“We’re very concerned with the safety of the people that we speak to, and our equipment is designed to specifically protect them from a possible injury. It’s not as important to understand what equipment is out there but to understand as to how to employ that equipment in the field in your daily work habits.”

Integrating their business’ products, services and solutions are only one aspect of what these companies are here to do, however. They’re also here because they take part in one of the most important aspects of the electrical trade – training apprentices so they are able to do the fastest, best job available while also being safe.

Rob Conrad, Sales Trainer, Ideal Industries
“First of all, you recognize that the relationship that we have with the apprenticeship program is not just a short-term thing. It’s nice to teach courses and provide training on a short term basis, but ultimately, you’re building relationships not just with your JATC but with your customer base, with the people who keep things moving in the industry long-term and those relationships make the industry move.”

Making the industry move in the right direction is also what motivates these experts. They realize that backing the NECA-IBEW training program pays off for them and is the best way to grow the industry.

Scott McIntosh, President and Founder, Stout Tool Corp
“The fun thing for us is when you go to the training centers, you get a very nice welcome. People appreciate you coming out there and helping them. You get apprentices that want to learn, you get trainers that welcome you into their facility so it’s good for everybody.”

Ted Gruin, National Business Development Manager for Trades and Organization, Snap-On
“The apprentices are very receptive to new technology, they’re very quick studies, they can certainly see and identify opportunities for new technologies in tools. The market is very wide open, they’re looking for new options, new solutions for their challenges on the job site.”

Bill Rieth, Director of Sales and Training, Salisbury Electrical Safety by Honeywell
“They’re the leaders in the training industry, and you’ll find in the electrical safety industry itself, that a lot of people, union and non-union, will look to what the NTI is providing in training standards and methods.”

Rich Cleary, Marketing Development, 3M
“It’s a source of pride for 3M to be involved with the NJATC. It’s really our honor to be involved with them, we take great pride in working with that organization knowing that we’re having a positive impact on the electricians of today and tomorrow.”