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The joint effort by the IBEW and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) to address the manpower shortage in the electrical construction industry targets high schools across the country with a massive mailing of "Career Action Kits." The attractive collection of materials seeks to make the point that "students and guidance counselors need to take a closer look at these promising careers outside the traditional four-year college track," said John M. Grau, chief executive officer of NECA.

Over the next decade, IBEW and NECA officials estimate they need 100,000 additional electrical and information technology system installers and technicians to meet the wiring and cabling needs of business and industry.

IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill said "We want these young people to be able to evaluate IBEW membership and a bright future in the world of computer systems and e-technologies."

The kits, titled "You've Got the Power: Find Your Future in the Electrical and Hi-Tech Information Systems Industry," were sent in March to guidance counselors at high schools and vocational schools in each of the 50 states. Every NECA chapter manager, local Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) training director and IBEW construction business manager received the materials too.

Kits contain a fact sheet on the industry, information on the IBEW and NECA, brochures on the joint apprenticeship program, a colorful poster depicting "59 Career Choices" and two interactive CD-ROMs. One CD-ROM covers the four different NJATC apprenticeships and the other catalogs 59 different career paths in the electrical and high-tech cabling industry.

The initial response from schools, gauged from forms requesting additional materials, has been positive. "What a great idea to promote this up-and-coming career path," said one high school counselor from Broken Arrow High School in Oklahoma.

Damage from the shortage of skilled electrical construction workers is beginning to appear across the country.

"It's affecting our ability to man worksites for our customers in some cases," said IBEW Construction Director Mark Ayers. "It's hampering our signatory contractors' ability to bid on jobs. The opportunities are there-we just don't have the people."

The kits show potential recruits the multitude of career choices and exposes them to the tangible advantages of union membership: paid training, a career with unmatched benefits and the assurance of a secure retirement.

"Construction is a career choice, not a job, that exposes you to opportunities based on your willingness to become more educated through our programs," Ayers said. "It's really a unique opportunity."

IBEW and NECA officials hope the kits will stimulate interest in the industry.

"The demand for electrical and IT professionals will be red hot for years to come," Hill said. "Add that to the income, college credits and training benefits of an NJATC apprenticeship and you've got a winning recipe for a well-paying professional career."

IBEW-NECA Recruitment Campaign Reaches Out To Young Workers

July 2001 IBEW Journal