Trade Schooling

Posted on:August 21, 2015 1:16 pm CDT

It's hard to believe it's already that time of year again…Back to School. But sure enough, this week started the "First Day of School" picture brigade on my Facebook page. And while most kids will be learning the basics (math, English, science, history, etc.), some will also be learning electrical trade skills.

It's no secret that there is a potential looming worker shortage in the skilled trades. For the sixth year in a row now, ManpowerGroup's Annual Talent Shortage survey lists "Skilled Trades" as the #1 hardest job to fill. Couple that with the Bureau of Labor Statistics expecting 20% job growth for electricians over the next 10 years.

According to the Manpower Survey, experience, technical competency, and industry-specific qualifications top the reasons WHY employers are having trouble filling jobs. Perhaps this is why training programs are starting to reach out to a much younger audience to educate about the trades. These programs seek to introduce electrical and other trade skills to kids in high school and even younger, and many of these programs are specifically aimed at reaching two very specific demographics – women and minorities.

CPS Reinstates Simeon's Electrical Program After Union Offers Jobs to Grads Future Electricians at Simeon Career Academy High School using Klein Tools in their lessons – Photo Courtesy of Electrical Apparatus

Here in Chicago, where Klein Tools is headquartered, the public school system just last year reinstated the only one of its kind high school electricity program on the city's south side. Thanks to a partnership with the local IBEW, the three-year program at Simeon Career Academy High School will not only help minority youths learn new skills in electrical construction, the IBEW Local 134 has said it will also provide employment to every graduate of the program. An article in Electrical Apparatus magazine says students learn workplace readiness, safety, blueprint reading, fundamentals and application of construction math, and receive an introduction to tools, materials, and terminology associated with the industry. The program has a capacity to enroll 28 students each year, with the promise that all graduates can then serve as trainees through the IBEW Local 134 Market Expansion Trainee Program. Successful trainees can then work to become union apprentices and journeymen.

An Albany, NY program puts high school girls through an electrician "boot camp" in an effort to not only get more women to pursue trade-related jobs, but also to eliminate any chance they might feel intimidated working next to boys. The program's supervisor, Bob Sallee, a retired electrician, told the Albany Democrat Herald that with the industry needing any trained person it can get, "There's absolutely no reason why we shouldn't have more women in the trade." The program is made up of four workshops where students learn things like basic circuitry, practical lessons on stripping and splicing wires, how to properly bend a pipe, and how to wire a house for lighting. The workshop instructors also discuss their backgrounds, types of jobs available, and the training needed for those jobs. The camp is offered through a partnership between a local training center and two Albany-area high schools and recently wrapped up its third year.

Have you seen more or are you involved in high-school or younger electrical training programs in your area? Tell us about them!