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IBEW Green Training Facilities Open
Its Doors to Congress

During the Memorial Day break, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers will invite congressional representatives to tour union job-training centers around the country to show them why they are the right choice when it comes to creating a renewable energy work force.

“The IBEW has developed one of the most advanced green training curriculums in the electrical industry and it makes sense that federal and state authorities partner with those who are already doing the work to meet the needs of greening our economy,” said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill.

From retrofitting buildings to installing wind turbines, new opportunities are opening up in the green energy sector as millions of stimulus dollars are made available for training and investment in the new energy economy. 

But the expected rapid growth of those jobs will require tens of thousands of skilled electricians who can safely and professionally install and wire solar panels, wind turbines and biofuel plants, a demand that it is already being met by the IBEW.

The National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee – a partnership between the IBEW and union electrical contractors – unveils its Green Jobs Curriculum next month, which collects more than 70 green training lessons the NJATC has been using into one single curriculum.

The comprehensive program, which covers everything from automated building operations to solar photovoltaics, will be woven into the fabric of current IBEW apprenticeship training and will serve as a resource for more experience electricians looking to upgrade their skills in the growing green jobs market.

If Congress is looking to invest stimulus money wisely in training a new green work force, they don’t have to look any further than one of our training centers," Hill said.

Some of the centers that will be open for tours include:

  • Pittsburgh Local 5’s 47,000 square-foot facility has trained more than 1,000 electricians since it opened in 2000. This year there have been more 400 applications for the program, the most interest the local has seen in years, said Training Director Bob Gieder.  Next fall, the center will be kicking off a solar installation “train-the-trainer” program to turn out skilled solar instructors to serve Western Pennsylvania.
  • Lisle, Ill., Local 701’s 90,000 square-foot facility has received many awards for architectural design since it first opened more than five years ago, but the real action is inside, says Training Director Edward Rossi. Nearly 100 apprentices are getting hands-on experience with solar and wind hook-ups by practicing on solar arrays and wind turbines on site.  

The training centers not only guarantee that the sustainable energy industry will be staffed by the best-trained electrical workers, but they make sure that green jobs are good-paying union ones that will grow the middle class and put our economy back on the road to recovery.

Community colleges across the United States are reporting a surge in enrollment for classes that offer training for green-collar jobs.

But while the average college student ends up more than $20,000 in debt by the time they graduate, IBEW apprentices start making money the moment they are accepted into a five-year program, which combines both classroom and on-the-job training. “They earn while they learn,” Gieder said. “Where else do you get paid for learning how to do a job?”

“Decent wages and benefits mean that our apprentices can stay in the area and contribute to their community,” Le Sueur, Minn., Local 343 Training Director Andy Toft said. “They become taxpayers, buy homes and cars and make their neighborhoods a good place to raise a family.”