Electricians are finding work in new areas. The communication technology
industry is creating great opportunities for workers with high-tech skills.
Electricians with high-tech skills can't get trained fast enough as far
as the information and communication industry is concerned. There is an international
shortage of high-tech electricians.
Don Lounds is the international vice-president of the International Brotherhood
of Electrical Workers (IBEW). "The main factor creating the increased demand
for electrical contractors and workers is the booming construction market.
Another factor is an aging workforce. It is almost impossible to train workers
fast enough to replace those that are retiring," he says.
"For a number of years now, enrollment in skilled trades programs has been
down. This decreased enrollment can be attributed to the unstable nature of
the construction industry and the last recession."
Installers and technicians are currently in critical shortage. Specifically,
they are needed to wire buildings with voice, data and video connections.
Mary Germershausen is a former electrician who is now NECA's director of
systems technology. She explains in detail why workers with high-tech skills
"Building owners are requiring the latest technology to be installed in
their facilities. An example of this is computer network upgrades. This process
requires the installation of new cables -- either copper or fiber-optic cable
to each work area or office," she says.
Germershausen says the shortage is a national problem in the U.S.
Steps are being taken to recruit and train more workers everywhere.
"NECA and the IBEW have joined together through the NJATC [National Joint
Apprenticeship and Training Committee] to provide apprenticeship and training
programs for inside wiremen, residential wiremen, outside linemen and telecommunication
installers and technicians. Each of these programs has an on-the-job training
component as well as classroom-related studies," says Germershausen.
With smart recruitment and training, electricians' organizations may have
a better trend on their hands -- an industry full of qualified highly skilled
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International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers