IEC Workforce Development Institute

The IEC Workforce Development Institute was formed in 2023 to advance the electrical profession and future workforce through research. More importantly, the WFDI will support research to practice- moving the needle on critical industry issues and workforce development by activating solutions aligned to research findings. 

“We are proud to announce the research arm of IEC, the Workforce Development Institute.  Through the work of this group, we will amplify the voice and influence of the merit shop electrical contracting industry, and develop meaningful momentum through solutions to advance the profession and pipeline of future electricians.” 

IEC Executive Director, Thayer Long

Goals of the WFDI include:

  • Provide research and develop information regarding the state and future of the independent electrical industry in the United States;​
  • Educate the public about the electrical contracting industry and the importance of electrical workers to a robust U.S. economy; ​
  • Support organizations that understand and value the interests of those engaged in the electrical construction industry; and​
  • Engage in other educational activity as determined by the Board of Directors.​

The Voice of The Electrical Industry


The WFDI research initiative represents the voice of over 3,600 IEC member businesses representing over 80,000 electrical and systems workers through the United States in addition to over 14,000 electrical apprentices throughout 50+ electrical apprentice campuses and a pipeline of over 5,000 prospective apprentices through the initiative.

Understanding Barriers to Entry in the Electrical Trade

Our first research report, Understanding Barriers to Entry in the Electrical Trade, is available now. Download your copy by clicking the report cover below. 


The massive projected shortage of electricians in the trade has been widely covered throughout 2023. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for electricians is projected to grow at 6% over the next 10 years, double the average growth rate across all occupations. To move the needle on the pipeline of future electricians, the industry needs a deeper understanding of barriers to entry to the trade among the prospective apprentice population. This understanding will lead to insight, action, and momentum forward for the future of the electrical profession.  

The IEC Workforce Development Institute conducted primary research across a broad audience in summer 2023. The findings are presented in the report along with possible actionable solutions to develop the future electrical apprentice pipeline and impact public sentiment on the electrical worker career path. 

From survey data collected from two distinct audiences – IEC contractor members and prospective apprentices accessing – key insights in this report include: 

LABOR SHORTAGE: The labor shortage in the electrical field is acutely felt among contractors and viewed as an opportunity among prospective apprentices. 

ELECTRICAL CAREER PATHING: There is an opportunity to increase awareness of the breadth of career options within the electrical trade and career progression among contractors, prospective apprentices, school counselors, and parents.  

PERCEPTIONS OF THE ELECTRICAL TRADE: While contractors overwhelmingly agreed the trades career path is viewed as “less than” a college career path, recent studies signal the tide may be turning on that reality and public perception related to anticipated return on investment. The majority of prospective apprentices indicate support for their decision to consider an electrical apprenticeship. 

ECONOMICS OF ELECTRICAL APPRENTICESHIP: The primary barrier to entry in the electrical trade among prospective apprentices is financial including support for tools, tuition, and employer placements. While the “learn while you earn” message resonates, not all prospective apprentices successfully navigate securing upfront funding to participate. However the wage potential over time in the electrical field and opportunity to become your own boss through career progression is attractive to both contractors and prospective apprentices.  

DIVERSITY: Prospective apprentices raised the lack of diversity among the electrical profession as a barrier to entry related to gender, race, and underserved populations. 

Download the full report for additional insights and next steps. 

Through the work of this group, we will amplify the voice and influence of the merit shop electrical contracting industry.

IEC Thayer Speaking 2023

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