Electrical Connection Energizes Pioneering Construction Pre-Apprenticeship Program at St. Mary's High School

ST. LOUIS – In the era of the “electrification of everything,” the IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection partnership is providing critical support to a pioneering construction pre-apprenticeship program at St. Mary's South Side Catholic High School in St. Louis.  Missouri Works Initiative will use a $30,000 Electrical Connection donation to expand its St. Louis Building Union Diversity (BUD) program to the independent Catholic high school and potentially expand it to other high schools.  The Electrical Connection is a partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

Left to right in the front row are Amy Phillips, director of operations, Missouri Works Initiative (MWI); Frank Jacobs, business manager, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1; Merri Berry, Missouri AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer; Megan Price, executive director, MWI; Mike England, president, St. Mary’s High School;  Steven Potts, president, St. Louis Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and president, Primary Systems, Inc.; Jake Hummel, president, Missouri AFL-CIO; and Tracy Hykes, instructor, Building Union Diversity (BUD).

The 2023-2024 school year is the first time the nationally recognized North America Building Trades Union's Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) will be introduced at a high school in Missouri.  At St. Mary's the MC3 curriculum will be facilitated through 2 elective class sections that will consist of 120 contact hours of instruction. 

“There is universal recognition that we need to re-energize hands-on construction training programs which launch well paying careers and are so critical to building our nation’s needs,” noted Megan Price, executive director, Missouri Works Initiative. “The IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection has led Missouri’s workforce development in rapidly advancing electrical and communication technology which is changing the way we live.  Meeting the needs of greater energy efficiency, electric vehicle infrastructure, traditional and renewable forms of energy, and the digital age are all part of an enduring commitment to training by the IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection.”

The IBEW/NECA partnership established the first certified electrical training program in 1941.  Since then, the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center at 2300 Hampton Ave. has trained more highly skilled and safe electricians and communication technicians than any education program in Missouri.

“We have supported the BUD program since its inception in 2014,” noted Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1. “St. Mary’s High School is ideally suited to capitalize on the BUD program with its diverse student body and commitment to expand career opportunities.”

Located at 4701 S Grand Blvd in the Dutchtown Neighborhood, St. Mary’s High School President Mike England says 60 percent of its students live within a five-mile radius of the school and 95 percent receive financial aid.  “The IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training where our students will receive hands-on training has a comprehensive curriculum in electrical and communications technology,” noted England.  “It delivers not just a skilled and safe workforce but launches careers of limitless possibility in the electrical and communications industry.”

“Our NECA contractors see great value in supporting the BUD program expansion to high schools,” noted Kyle McKenna, executive vice president, St. Louis Chapter NECA. “Students will meet our NECA contractors and learn about the complex projects we proficiently engineer and manage. They will see what it takes to power, connect and shape our future.”

The BUD program will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2024 and is supported by 10 St. Louis union trades.  It was created by the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council AFL-CIO as a recruitment tool to encourage more minorities and women to get into the union-building trades. Since then, it has a graduation rate of 92 percent and a placement rate of 82 percent.  Missouri Works Initiative now manages the program.

St. Louis NECA contractors employ IBEW electricians and communication technicians.  The IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection partnership provides safe and reliable electrical/communication construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world.  Learn more at www.electricalconnection.org.