ST. LOUIS — Missouri’s most prolific producer of highly skilled and safe electricians and communication technicians is strengthening career opportunities through an education partnership with St. Louis Community College (STLCC). The IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center has entered a partnership for apprentices and journey workers to earn associate degrees from STLCC. The training center, located at 2300 Hampton Ave., is operated jointly by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association. For more than 70 years, it has produced more highly skilled and safe electricians and communication technicians than any training program in Missouri.
The college will offer the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Skilled Trades Industrial Occupations Technology Apprenticeship program, or Skilled Trades AAS program. The STLCC Skilled Trades AAS program is a joint effort to recognize apprenticeship training as postsecondary education to prepare the current and future workforce. An associate degree will be awarded to a journey worker who successfully completes the approved U.S. Department of Labor apprentice program and 15 credit hours of general education courses at STLCC. “This will equip them with the knowledge, skills and certifications they need to seek employment and promotion in the construction industry, and allow them to advance and/or pursue further postsecondary educational opportunities,” said Steve Long, STLCC’s associate vice chancellor for Workforce Solutions.
“Our educational partnership with St. Louis Community College will strengthen career paths for our apprentices and journey workers,” said Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1. “While the training center produces highly technical skills for the electrical industry, many of our members have entrepreneurial skills that benefit the business community. Many have founded their own companies.”
In February 2017, the St. Louis Regional Chamber announced an initiative to make the St. Louis metropolitan region among the 10 most educated in the nation. Among the goals is to increase associate degrees by 10 percent, an 18,000-person increase, and bachelor’s degrees to 40 percent, a 75,000-person increase, by 2025. See www.topteneducation.org.
“Our plan to partner with STLCC has been in the works well before the chamber’s new education initiative, but we applaud the effort,” said Doug Martin, CEO, St. Louis Chapter, NECA. “We have decades of investment in developing pacesetting skills and safety in the electrical industry to meet an ever more complex array of construction projects. The St. Louis Community College education partnership allows us to more fully leverage our incredible talented workforce by opening new avenues for careers.”
The training center is entirely industry funded by IBEW/NECA at no taxpayer expense. IBEW/NECA invests $2 million annually in training. That includes 10,000 hours of training for apprentices, who earn a wage while they learn, and continuing education programs for journey workers. The training center’s more than 70-course curriculum uses advanced technology including a rooftop solar array and courses on Building Information Modeling (BIM) and next generation electrical/communication installations, including green energy, smart building technology and advanced manufacturing.
There are currently 467 apprentices enrolled in four separate programs registered with U.S. Department of Labor. The training center offers tutoring and mentoring and has a 91 percent graduation rate. Over the last four years, 27 percent of participants have been minorities. Through its participation in career fairs and its Electrical Connection partnership (www.electricalconnection.org), IBEW/NECA is committed to a broad outreach to recruit apprentices while also energizing STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education in schools which is critical to producing the highly skilled electrical and communications workforce upon which Missouri depends.
STLCC will offer classroom- or web-based courses for the convenience of the students. Participants will pay the in-district tuition rate per credit hour for any course offered as part of the college’s general education curriculum. STLCC also will provide information on how to apply for financial aid, student loans or grants.