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Congressman Tours Training Center: Outreach Program for High-Tech Training Lauded

April 2005 IBEW Journal

U.S. Representative William "Lacy" Clay (left) views process
control equipment as he tours the IBEW/NECA St. Louis
Electrical Industry Training Center with Dennis Gralike, center

The IBEW/NECA St. Louis Electrical Industry Training Center—recognized as one of the nation’s top high-tech learning laboratories for electrical construction and communication craft workers— recently welcomed U.S. Representative William L. Clay, D-Mo., for a tour of the facility.With a number of large building projects on the horizon for the St. Louis area in 2005, the congressman was briefed on the union electrical industry’s outreach programs to help minorities, women and others succeed in construction’s most high-tech field.The training center is operated by IBEW Local 1 and St. Louis chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association."In my district, we anticipate redevelopment to begin this year on 600 acres of land east of Lambert St. Louis International Airport," Clay said. "This project alone is expected to generate 2,500 construction jobs for years, including a significant number for minority craft workers and contractors. The training center is crucial to supplying skilled electricians and communication workers for metro St. Louis and in helping minorities attain good-paying careers."The St. Louis training center has taught hundreds of minority apprentices and electricians. "While we serve a 24-county area, we work closely with community-based organizations in the city of St. Louis" through IBEW/NECA outreach programs, said Dennis Gralike, director of the center. Gralike said he works with St. Louis public and charter schools, the Construction Career Academy and Lincoln University in Jefferson City."The training center is committed to creating a diverse work force," said Local 1 Business Manager Stephen P. Schoemehl.Local 1’s Electrical Workers Minority Caucus serves as a support and networking system to provide outreach training. Caucus President Leon Arties said of the training center, "there’s no other program that offers such a clear path to a high-tech construction career."To prepare for the growing complexity of Information Age installations, the IBEW/NECA training center underwent a $1 million upgrade in 1999.

Dedication to preparing apprentices and journey workers for all emerging technologies earned the training center honors from the St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers, which awarded the center the prestigious Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness Award.