In an effort to recognize apprenticeship training as post-secondary education, IBEW Local 1 and the St. Louis chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association has entered into partnership with St. Louis Community College (SLCC) to offer associate degrees in the skilled trades.
The Associate of Applied Science degree in Skilled Trades Industrial Occupations Technology Apprenticeship program will be offered through the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center and the college.
The degree is also available to journey workers who have successfully completed the approved U.S. Department of Labor apprentice program and 15 credit hours of general education courses at SLCC.
“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 post-secondary educational opportunities,” said Steve Long, SLCC’s associate vice chancellor for Workforce Solutions.
IBEW Local 1 Business Manager Franks Jacobs said the partnership with the college would strengthen career paths for the union’s apprentices and journey workers.
“While the training center produces highly technical skills for the electrical industry, many of our members have entrepreneurial skills that benefit the business community, Jacobs said. “Many have founded their own companies.”
In February, the St. Louis Regional Chamber announced an initiative to make the St. Louis metro area one of the top 10 most educated regions in the nation. Among the goals is to increase the number of those with associate degrees by 10 percent, an 18,000-person increase, and bachelor’s degrees to 40 percent, a 75,000-person increase, by 2025.
“Our plan to partner with SLCC has been in the works well before the chamber’s new education initiative, but we applaud the effort,” said Doug Martin, NECA St. Louis Chapter CEO. “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 SLCC 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 connection with the Electrical Connection, 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.
SLCC 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. The college also will provide information on how to apply for financial aid, student loans or grants.