So often, young children are asked the perplexing question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The popular answers are police officer, doctor, astronaut, or another career that has a “hero” factor. When I was eight, nobody could have convinced me that I was not going to be the first cross-sport baseball and basketball star; I did not even know that the public relations field was a career choice.
As children enter middle and high school, more careers move to the forefront. Some continue to pursue their aforementioned dreams and take the proper educational courses to land the job; others search for new careers that better suit their evolving interests and developing skills.
As young people progress through their secondary education, it is critical to make them aware of the many career options that are available so they can make informed decisions about their future. This is not to say that every person must choose a career the second that they walk across a high school graduation stage and accept their diploma. For example, I knew that the career path I wanted to work in would require a college degree, however, as an undergrad, I explored majors in Business Administration and Elementary Education. It wasn’t until halfway through my sophomore year that I found my true passion, communications/public relations.
Students need to be exposed to the full gamut of career options. Are they aware of the potential and opportunities available to people in the trades? Are students aware that apprenticeship programs allow one to receive hands-on training while also learning in the classroom? There are career choices in which the work does not require a college degree but another form of post-secondary training. An electrical professional does not need a degree but can go through a four-year apprenticeship program, like the one offered through IEC. Students who enjoy working with their hands and have a general understanding of math and science should research a career as an electrician.
On page 22, Christi Buker of Central Pennsylvania IEC details the IEC National Workforce Development Committee’s partnership with 4-H and how they are informing young people of the benefits of a career in the electrical industry. By exposing them to the IEC National Convention & Electric Expo, they experience the industry firsthand. Furthermore, on page 16, Lana Frye details how IEC Atlanta is tackling the difficult task of attracting women to electrical industry. Both articles are demonstrating ways to grow the workforce while providing a career option for students. They do not tell the young people to choose a career as an electrician; they show them the details of the job to peak their interest.
If students need examples of the heights that this career can take them, they need to look no further than Keith Bell (page 26). He is the President and CEO of Intex Electrical Contractors, which recently celebrated 30 years in business. Now, his position has allowed him to give back to the association (IEC) and the industry that has given him so much. Keith’s story is nothing short of remarkable.
At the other end of the professional spectrum, Steven Nemeth (page 18) is just beginning his career as a journeyman electrician. If his future is anything like his journey through the IEC apprentice program then he has a highly successful career on the horizon. Steven completed all four years of his apprentice training at Mid-South IEC with a perfect score. That is not just one year or one test, Steven never missed a point in four years.
Those are just two examples of the great people involved in IEC. Now, we must share their stories with young people to illustrate the lucrative and exciting career of electrical contracting.
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