Chapter Corner

Why IEC Matters

Posted in: Features, August 2015

Why-IEC-photo.gifYou are reading this article because you are either an IEC member or you are interested enough in IEC to have picked up this magazine and start reading. Thank you.

It’s a natural human tendency to join together for a common goal. But there is also a value proposition embedded in there; we know there has to be something in it for you to make this whole thing work.

Why do you belong to IEC? What is your IEC 30 second elevator speech?

My usual hip pocket answer is that for members of the Independent Electrical Contractors, the common goal is to increase profitability by training and employing a safe and productive workforce, and by advocating for sensible policies that promote growth within our industry and member ranks. That’s a solid answer.

But I have another answer that I give more often. IEC brings goodness and profitability to our business owner members. IEC makes happier, healthier, more productive employees. IEC is about keeping people safe. IEC is about giving people an education, giving individuals life-long skills that no one can ever take away, getting people good paying jobs and giving them the means to provide well for a family and future. I believe that is a better answer.

If you had the opportunity to read the apprentice essay contest article in July 2015 issue of Insights, you would have read some pretty powerful stuff (You can still view them here: www.ieci.org/awards). One apprentice wrote about the two steps that led him to “ultimately improve my quality of life.” Another wrote about being homeless and broken, and having been employed by an IEC member and gone through an apprenticeship program, they have been transformed, and are now gifted with strength, courage, and empowerment. Another wrote about how becoming an IEC apprentice was a life-changing decision. They were working regular jobs, and they now have a great career and a set of skills to take them places.

To me that’s the real power of IEC. These people now are working for IEC members, and making a difference for themselves, their families, and their employers.

Want more nitty gritty? Let’s consider the basics. You can’t just pull a person off the street and in a few months or a couple of years and have the licensed or experienced electrician you need. 

whyIECmatters.gifSomeone needs to train those people to keep them safe, to make them productive. That is something IEC does very well. Over the course of many years, IEC’s passionate and dedicated members and Apprenticeship & Training Committee have developed, a top-notch, nationally recognized, and college-level accredited curriculum. This curriculum is delivered by a stellar leading cast of IEC chapters and training centers around the country, who also handle all the regulations and compliance issues for a registered apprenticeship program. To ensure the curriculum and programming is delivered to its full potential, IEC has developed an online Instructor Training course. IEC is an association of electricians and for electricians. Who better to train the industry of tomorrow? Who better to provide leadership on what the installer of tomorrow needs to know to prepare to enter a changing world?

IEC’s program is among the largest of its kind in the country, and is on pace to have more than 8,000 students enrolled in the electrical apprenticeship program in 2015. This is a 13 percent increase from two years ago.

According to a McKinsey & Company study recently cited by the Secretary of Labor, for every $1 that an employer invests in apprenticeship training, that company will receive $1.47 in increased productivity, efficiency, and innovation.

IEC also is the principal advocate for merit shop electrical contractors. Recently, IEC played a significant role in a successful lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the United States which upheld a ruling that the 2012 appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) circumvented Congress and was unconstitutional.

IEC played an important role in reforming federal workforce investment funding, helping pass legislation which ensures a business majority and chairmanship of state and local workforce investment boards. IEC is now also preparing to fill an unmet need in Washington, D.C., by attempting to bring the construction industry together to stress the importance of a qualified workforce, and to influence national policies that disproportionately skew individuals away from a technical career. If you are in the business of being a merit-shop electrical contractor, there is something in IEC for you.

Charles Darwin said it’s not the strongest or most intelligent who survives, it’s those who are able to adapt to the current environment.

IEC matters today, what is IEC doing to ensure it stays relevant tomorrow?

As an organization, our mission is clear. First, we are fierce advocates for merit-shop electrical contractors. Legislation and regulation continue to tear away at the free enterprise model which is so necessary and to which we owe achievement. And while not all government is bad, there are certain intrusive elements which hamper the businesses of our contractors and weigh on the lives of the thousands of individuals we employ.

Second, manpower and productivity issues have plagued projects since the beginning of time, and continue to do so on today’s jobsite. While IEC offers the premier training program that is unmatched for merit-shop electricians, education has become big business.

Competition is out there from a variety of sources – construction groups and private and public educational organizations.

IEC’s commitment to members is each and every day we will ask ourselves is what we are doing enhancing our industry, our members, and enriching lives and the workforce through education. IEC is strong, but can only get stronger by working together, by challenging ourselves, and by holding each other accountable. That is what is going to make IEC successful.

Finally, not a member? Join today – IEC needs you and you need IEC!

Thayer Long is the Executive Vice President/CEO of the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC). IEC is a national trade association for merit shop electrical and systems contractors. As EVP/CEO, Long directs all association activity under the leadership of the IEC National Board of Directors and is a member of the IEC Executive Committee. During his tenure, IEC has experienced a 25 percent increase in apprentice enrollment and a more than five percent increase in membership. For more information, visit www.ieci.org.