IEC Participates in Business Leaders United Fly-In

Representatives from the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) attended the Business Leaders United (BLU) Fly-In, October 21 and 22 in Washington, D.C. The event covered wide-ranging topics with the goal of increasing the number of America’s skilled workers.

Walt Czyrnik, Executive Director of Mid-South IEC, and Grant Shmelzer, Executive Director of IEC Chesapeake represented IEC at the Fly-In. Also in attendance was Tony George, Mid-South IEC member and chair of the chapter’s Apprenticeship & Training Committee. The group stressed the importance of increasing investments in workforce education and training, such as apprentice programs.

As providers of an electrical apprenticeship program, Shmelzer and Czyrnik spoke directly to the positive impact of a well-trained workforce during the Fly-In. One of the meetings featured Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and Director of National Economic Council Gene Sperling. The diversity of attendees at the event helped frame the discussions.

“What was truly amazing and beneficial was for the leadership in Washington to hear from companies with 30 employees, as well as companies with 130,000 employees delivering the same message,” Czyrnik said. “The message was to allow the employers in specific regions to determine what the needs are in training the workforce as it relates to the Workforce Investment Act.  The employers want input on their employees’ education and training instead of someone outside the specific industry giving their opinion on what they believe is needed in the training.”

Shmelzer and Czyrnik had many other meetings on Capitol Hill during the two-day event. Czyrnik addressed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee staff about the role a well-trained workforce can play in today’s business climate. Shmelzer met the staff of Senators Cardin (Maryland), Warner (Virginia), and Manchin (West Virginia) to discuss possible solutions for developing a skilled workforce.