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In the IBEW, every electrician, whether it be wiring up buildings or outside on power lines – he or she must graduate from an apprenticeship program, whereby they work alongside journeymen-mentors during the day, and also undergo formal classroom training to learn their trade.

When they graduate and they hit your jobsite, their experience, knowledge and know-how can’t be beat. Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, they’re the best electrical investment your money can buy.

Want to know how the NECA/IBEW team can prove it? Look no further than the teachers in their schools.

Recently, I traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan where the next group of instructors certified by the NJATC – the group responsible for IBEW training – received their teaching certificates.

As with all graduations, the story ends with a walk across the stage, a handshake, a “congratulations” or two, and a picture.

But where does the story begin?

For this group of IBEW graduates – it began 4 long years ago.

Each IBEW apprenticeship school’s list of faculty members are all electrical workers Many have been in the field sometimes for as much as 20 years or more.

Their selfless commitment to this industry is such that they give their time to teach the next generation of electricians and linemen.

But, while they’re professionals on the job – they still need to learn how to teach. How to best get the information in their heads, into the minds of their students.

So – they come here to national training institute, or NTI – to do just that.

This is a four-year program. Each year builds upon the last, like a pyramid.

In year 1 they learn: Principals of learning and elements of trade teaching. The basics of how people learn, how to relate to students and what challenges trade education and trade teaching pose.

In year 2: Planning and presenting related information and using electrical technology. Putting theory into practice and how to use available training aids developed by the NECA/IBEW team’s training arm – the NJATC.

Year 3: Performance evaluation and teaching and managing in a technical laboratory. How to justify who gets what grade and why, and how to develop the correct “hands on learning” environment so crucial to the electrical field.

Year 4: Creating an active learning environment and discussion methods gets the student involved in many different facets of a classroom setting.

When all is said and done, the governing body – the NJATC – certifies that each and every one of these men and women who completed the program measure up to the high-standards of our industry and can graduate.

Mike Callanan- Executive Director, NJATC
“Ninety-two of our industry’s finest graduated last night, culminating four years of an intensive program that began with the very basics, the fundamentals of learning. I was so proud to watch those 92 students, and to additionally have the support of 1,600 of the organized electrical industry from the IBEW-NECA watching them, it had to be a great moment for them. I can’t think of a better way to culminate our week’s activities.”

Al Wright – 2010 NTI Graduate
“I went through the apprenticeship myself and as I went through the apprenticeship I got a chance to see the instructors who needed fine tuning. And as I went through that process I was able to come to them and get that fine tuning for myself and bring that back to my students.”

Carol Arnett – 2010 NTI Graduate
“I went through the four years straight. Did the first two in Tennessee and the second two in Michigan. It’s a lot of work but it really teaches a lot, and I’ve had fun. We learn so much about how to teach our students, how to get through to them, and it makes us more effective, which makes them more effective on the job.”

James Gangler – 2010 NTI Graduate
“A lot of people have a lot of head knowledge, but you can’t always teach your trade. And that’s really where it’s at, when you find the one gem that can do it all, then you really want to take care of them and get them trained.”

To put it into context, men and women have earned their bachelor’s degrees in teaching the electrical trade, something the leadership of both NECA and the IBEW come to recognize and support.

Ed Hill – International President, IBEW
“All week long, these people, our training directors, our instructors, go through a rigorous program. It takes four years for them to get it done. It’s something that they are proud of, and it’s something that they need to go through to make sure that our people are the very best when we put them out in the field.”

John Grau – CEO, National Electrical Contractors Association
“It really is a nice reward for those who have put in the time to come here, away from their homes in the summer time and really work on their career and their education. We really appreciate the time that they put into it and it’s really heartwarming to be here. That’s why we all come. The leaders in the industry, we show up and we’re all busy too, but this is an important event and it’s a must-attend for us.”

Ed Hill – International President, IBEW
“Everything you see today coming out, all the new technology is all electrical or it has something to do with our trade. Our members are being taught by the people who come out of here, and that’s going to give us an advantage in the future.”

John Grau – CEO, National Electrical Contractors Association
“The customer ought to realize that we are standing for what we say we are. We have the Code of Excellence and we have this training, and if they want it, they can come here too, because this is our guarantee. This is what we say we’ll do and we’re doing it.”

And like IBEW president Ed Hill and NECA CEO John Grau mentioned – the lasting impact for you, the owner, general contractor, city manager, purchaser of NECA/IBEW services – it means that when you hire us to do your next install or maintenance work, the men and women on your job are the best trained, most highly skilled electrical craftsmen and women because they’re taught by the best.

You’ll be interested to know that each year the NECA/IBEW team invests $120 million in training – backing up the time honored tradition of being leaders in the electrical construction industry, year after year.