Training Makes a Difference

First of a three part series on union value.

There's a reason why union electricians tend to trump their non-union counterparts in job safety, job stability and on-the-job performance. It's training and experience. Although non-union groups are seeking to gain some ground, it's hard to surpass the union-sponsored classes, apprenticeships, and workshops in place for electricians of all stripes.

Sure, training requires energy and effort, but younger electricians have come to appreciate the edge it gives them in completing even complex jobs more quickly, thoroughly and cost-efficiently. In a recent blog at, a novice electrician wrote, "What I am mainly concerned with is actual work experience. Am I missing out by not attending union school?"

In a word, yes. These days, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) not only provides union workers with basic training, but partners with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) to provide them the project management expertise required to drive higher profits for their companies and this means greater cost savings for clients.

NECA's Management Education Institute is noteworthy for programs emphasizing business, technical and management skills – all critical to assembling an efficient, productive workforce. More recent programs emphasize quality workmanship as defined by the National Electrical Installation Standards.

In conjunction with NECA, IBEW also cosponsors the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC), which trains the majority of the nation's electrical workers, combining classroom work with on-the-job training supervised by journeymen electricians or linemen. Additionally, NJATC provides apprenticeship courses for commercial, industrial and residential contractors and continuing education for journeymen. Founded in 1941, the organization remains the standard by which all others are measured. Much the same can be said of the electricians it sends to the workforce.