High School Apprentices Learn Success With IEC San Antonio
IEC San Antonio partners with a local high school for the MacArthur Electrical Apprenticeship Program. The chapter is privileged to work with the school and its electrical program. The relationship began over 12 years ago and it continues to grow and thrive today.
MacArthur High School’s Electrical Apprenticeship Program is actively using the first year of the IEC National Apprenticeship curriculum.
The students are introduced to the program in the seventh and eighth grade and the opportunities it can bring. Beginning in the student’s freshman year, they enter the electrical apprenticeship program. Ninth grade students are taught basic electrical theory and the safety aspects of the construction industry with the introduction to IEC safety standards and the IEC curriculum. During their second year, the student’s sophomore year, they are taught half of the first-year IEC National curriculum. During their junior year of high school, they are taught the second half of the first-year IEC curriculum. During both of these years, they work in their school’s electrical laboratory learning pipe bending, electrical wiring projects from residential to commercial to industrial, work ethics, and team building. Just like on a jobsite, these students must learn to work with other employees/students.
Upon entering their senior year of high school, most of the electrical apprenticeship students begin to work with local contractors. They continue their schooling in the morning and work part-time in the afternoon at a local contractor’s office. Most of the students work for IEC San Antonio member contractors. Also at this time, they are registered with the Department of Labor and have the Electrical Apprenticeship State Licenses required by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations.
At the end of their senior year, IEC San Antonio proctors a final exam to the students. This test counts as their final exam at the high school level. This is the same exam given to the students currently enrolled in the IEC program. This allows the chapter to know how many of the high school students are prepared to come to IEC San Antonio to continue the apprenticeship. Those who pass this test may enter directly into the second year of the IEC apprenticeship program.
Contractors Advise and Support
MacArthur High School has an advisory committee on which many of the local IEC member contractors serve. They meet on a quarterly basis. It is made up of about 30 contractors and suppliers as well as a few individuals who represent other businesses in the industry.
Many of the IEC San Antonio contractor member also donate time, money, and materials to the school and their laboratory. These contractors employ many of the students looking to gain some of their on-the-job learning hours. The contractors give feedback on the students and their work skills, knowledge, and attitude. The advisory committee speaks with the contractors often about other skills needed by the students, such as soft skills, more curriculum knowledge, and technical skills. The contractors work hard to employ and guide these students in their effort to further their knowledge and their career.
There are many advantages to the program and the advisory committee contractor members. They include: a source of well-trained employees, improved cost-effectiveness of recruiting and training, an improved personnel selection process by using job performance as a basis for permanent hiring decisions, and an improved retention rate among full-time employees.
Like IEC San Antonio, MacArthur High School has an Apprenticeship Committee. It is made up of seven individuals from the industry. Their main responsibility is to review student employment records and work progress. They also approve the wage scale for the program and make sure the Electrical Systems Technology Apprenticeship Standards are up-to-date and correct.
Expanding to Other Schools
Currently, IEC San Antonio is talking to four other high school districts in San Antonio about the program and how their high school electrical programs could filter directly into the IEC San Antonio program, which is another industry opportunity and career path opportunity in addition to college choices. The counselors and high school instructors the chapter is working with are eager to learn more about the program. IEC San Antonio hopes to have the curriculum in one of the other high school programs by Fall 2014. The other three schools are trying to work the IEC curriculum into their schedule by Fall 2015.
One of the main selling/talking points is the fact that a student who passes the IEC first year curriculum in high school can enter directly into the second year of the IEC program. This is a very important aspect for many of the schools IEC San Antonio has spoken to about the program. Many of the counselors at these high schools see this benefit as receiving dual credits towards the student’s education.
Partners in More Than Just Education
IEC San Antonio and MacArthur High School work together with Habitat for Humanity and SkillsUSA.
Once a year, the MacArthur High School students in the electrical apprenticeship program are taken out to a Habitat for Humanity housing development. They are supervised by the electrical company on the job, by the high school instructors, and by IEC San Antonio. The students enjoy this day because they are working on a project that is real to them and for the family that will reside in this home. These students work together with architectural and engineering students and other building trade students to prepare them for a real jobsite collaboration of different trades.
SkillsUSA is a national student leadership organization which emphasizes skills such as job interviews, writing skills, people skills, and leadership skills. MacArthur High School and IEC San Antonio have been involved in this organization for many years. The high school students build projects and compete in pipe bending/wiring project competitions during their junior and senior year. IEC San Antonio hosts the local competitions. The students whose projects win compete at the state level. The national level hosts the wire-off and practical skills exam.
These students are getting ahead in their career path because they start thinking about this in the ninth and tenth grades. This early education development mindset prepares the students for longevity in a career that is both rewarding and beneficial to the student, the contractor, and the industry.
The IEC San Antonio partnership with MacArthur High School is a great opportunity for all partners. The students are gaining knowledge and real world experience, and the industry is gaining eager, young electricians who are ready to take on the industry and take it to new heights.
Julie Howard is the Executive Director for the IEC San Antonio chapter. Before IEC, she worked for the Associated General Contractors of America in San Antonio, Texas. She attended the University of the Incarnate Word and received her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing in 2001 and her Master’s degree in Business Management in 2006.