The NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center is always looking for new ways to reach its membership, trigger renewed interest in training and provide value above all else.
With that concept in mind, The NIETC is moving forward as does technology. Apprentices enrolling in classes are now being integrated into a Learning Management System or LMS. This system provides an online portal where students “log in” to their accounts, view all of their courses, view embedded video’s, click on active links to related resources and complete their assigned homework. The homework is then graded and reported back to the student and the Instructor. This allows for students to complete their homework, have it checked and re-study or seek out assistance on topics they did not understand. This also provide the instructor with an overview of how the students did on their attempts, what area’s caused a majority of the difficulty and what was well understood. The ultimate reward is better understanding and retention by the student. The reduce time consumed in the classroom spent reviewing material is now being used to offer enhance hands –on labs and expanding training on more difficult material. It is a win-win for all involved.
This move to utilizing technology does not stop at the apprentice level, Journey workers are seeing the trend also. The NIETC has been offering an online component for the renewal of CPR certification. Again students “log in” and go through a review of materials that they have previously covered in the original course and take a quiz on the written portion of the course. The student then come to the training center at a later date to perform the “hands-on” portion of CPR, demonstrating their physical abilities to perform the skills that they had reviewed and tested on online. This is only used for a renewal of a certificate that was originally issued in a a classroom setting and allows for members who have taken the class every two years to simply review and demonstrate, as that it ultimately the goal. Be proficient at CPR so it can be used when needed.
The Training Center has also reinvigorated a course on Instrumentation, which is a very technical high level topic in utilizing computers and programmable controllers to manage and process the mixture of fluids, gasses and electrical signals. This course encompasses at least 138 hours of student time in class along with uncounted hours in study and personal preparation for Certification testing. The high level mix of topics requires the student to have a broad knowledge of science in combining all of the components of this course. The end goal is certification and performing this work at some of our local High Tech clients throughout the Northwest.
Also new to the scene is a course on 3-D modeling or BIM. This course provides a base knowledge of how and why computers are being used to build virtual representations of structures before they are ever constructed, enabling the construction crews to foresee potential conflicts and avoid them prior to advancing in the construction phases. This saves not only reworking of the project but allows for a look into where the building will be at various timelines and provides for manpower forecasting as well as opportunities for prefabricating elements of the construction. This is also being integrated into apprentice classes to prepare them for their changing roles in the future. Technology is one aspect of construction that will continue to change at warp speed and we plan to do the same.
As 2013 comes to a close, it is always interesting to look back and reflect on what went on during the year. This “look at the numbers” can give us perspective on the progress we have made (or lack thereof) and hopefully some insight on where we go from here.
The Training Center registered 203 apprentices into the program in 2013, the largest number in a single year on record. Possibly even more impressive is that all but 4 have stayed on through the year. This demonstrates the quality of applicant in their commitment to the industry as well as the great job the interview and selection committee do on picking quality candidates. This number brings the program total up to 532 total, 4 Residential, 67 Limited Energy and the remaining Inside.
Although the overall numbers do not match the total in the program back in 1999, reaching over 600, they do show an increase and the number of incoming students is exceeding the number of those graduating.
Another interesting category is the number of women and minorities entering the program. The number of female apprentices account for 11.2 % of the total at 60, with minorities making up 13.3 % of the total with 71 total. The Training Center, along with NECA and IBEW continue to look at opportunities to enhance application and retention and promote growth in the programs. These effort will continue to evolve and include new and different options, community based organizations and methods. We encourage new ideas and invite you to offer your expertise in reaching new audiences that will promote our basic goals of inclusion and diversity. We also have 24 Veterans in the program.
Along the lines of apprenticeship come the contractors and members and their involvement in the program. We have 176 signatory contractors that are registered training agents, making them eligible to employ and train apprentices. Of that total, 48 are currently active in employing those approximately 200 apprentices. In terms of JW members, we had 485 of the approximate 3077 JW members attending continued Education classes this year. We expect that number to increase substantially in 2014 due to the upcoming adoption of the 2014 NEC.
In terms of code and CEU classes, it appears that as the states of Oregon and Washington go about the process of evaluating and creating the OESC and WAC, There is going to be a much more similar code being applied on both sides of the river. Both states are planning to move forward on a 2014 adoption, July 1 in Washington and Oct. 1 in Oregon. Additionally both states seem to be heading towards adopting the NEC in its native form on a much greater scale, modifying less and less, and therefor having a much greater consistency for the border states.
A number that often goes unnoticed but deserves to be recognized is eight. That is the number of Trustees from NECA and IBEW that continuously guide the JATC toward excellence in Apprentice and Journeyman training. They meet monthly, providing leadership and direction to the Training Center. Investing nearly 400 hours per year in meetings, Interviewing, and generally helping. We must recognize them as the backbone of the Training Center. Their efforts and commitment to the industry cannot be ignored. We have many areas to work on and will continue to strive for excellence. Given the efforts of everyone involved, I expect we will continue to see great things in our future.