Beyond Apprenticeship

Hovanec web.jpgThis spring, I had the privilege to participate in multiple IEC chapters apprentice graduation ceremonies across the country. At each graduation, I spoke about how so many more electricians are needed now and in the years to come. I spoke of the need for continued education to keep up with new and emerging technology.

The truth is that when an apprentice graduates from IEC they only close one chapter of their education as an electrician. As journeyman electricians, it is essential that they continue their education. If they do not keep up with the rapid changes in technology, they could be left behind.

Not so long ago, emerging technologies were not a big concern in the electrical contracting industry. Rapid advances in technology were largely limited to the electronics industry. That has now changed. Today, new and emerging technology is something that everyone working in the electrical industry must be cognizant of.

It was only ten years ago that solar power generation – as we know it today – was in its infancy. Solar power has grown to become a multibillion dollar industry, employing over 200,000 Americans among thousands of companies across the U.S. There are now more solar workers in the U.S. than there are in the oil and natural gas industries. New solar technology, like concentrated solar power (CSP), will expand the need for more workers and expanded education for the existing workforce.

Expanding low voltage technologies is expected to lower the operating voltage of lighting. There is now a low voltage ceiling grid that can power lighting in an entire room, home, or high-rise building. If electrical contractors lose sight of technology operating at lower voltages, they could lose a substantial market share in lighting and other sectors of their business.

Another technology that many IEC members have already embraced is building information modeling (BIM). BIM digitally brings together all of the information about every component of a building. It makes it possible for anyone to access the information and integrate different aspects of the design more effectively. BIM has transformed the way many construction projects are designed, engineered, built, and managed, all of which deliver a greater return on investment (ROI) for firms of all sizes.

In response to these rapid changes in technology, IEC offers many more avenues to learn beyond its world class Apprenticeship Program. IEC’s Project Management Institute (PMI), Webinar Series, Professional Electrician Program (PEP), and Electrical and Systems Training Series (ESTS) are all programs designed to enhance knowledge and stay current in the electrical industry.

One of the most popular programs offered is the IEC PMI. This program is designed by and specifically for today’s contractors. The PMI consists of 80 hours of instruction at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Topics include budgeting, total quality management, planning & scheduling, job costing,pre-fab & profitability, using technology to gain profit, safety, and much more.

IEC’s ESTS is a series of courses developed for non-apprentice electricians. This program consists of various refresher courses for experienced electricians or as part of IEC’s PEP to provide an alternative for a field electrician that never went through formal classroom training. Current topics within the ESTS library are Theory I, Theory II, Motor Controls I, Motor Controls III and Fire Alarm: NFPA 72-2010 and NFPA 72-2013 with Code.

On the heels of a successful 2015 Webinar Series, IEC has continued to offer periodic webinars throughout 2016. These webinars contain topics directly related to your electrical contracting business and are part of the IEC Training Advantage. A couple of the most recent webinars were &ldqu