Business, Labor Cheer Federal Skills Investment


April 28, 2014

IBEW-NECA training centers, like Local 701’s in Lisle, Ill., are a model for joint business-labor apprenticeship programs. President Obama announced $600 million in federal support to apprenticeship programs April 16.

Business and labor leaders are in agreement that President Obama’s April 16 announcement of $600 million in federal grant programs to boost workforce training is the right decision for the economy.


IBEW President Edwin D. Hill and Pacific Gas & Electric chief executive Tony Earley write in the Hill newspaper:

If used wisely, these grants will spur productivity and economic growth by targeting training to fit current, real-world needs and create a body of skilled workers able to fill them.

We know because PG&E and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, working together and in separate efforts, have experience in developing apprenticeship programs and targeted training to create powerful results.

The competitive grants are available to training programs that link together businesses, unions, community colleges and other private groups, with a focus on skills that match jobs the economy needs. Grant funding comes from monies left over in Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant program.

Hill and Earley say that these grants can help grow the skilled workforce needed to renovate and update America’s energy infrastructure to meet the demands of changing technology and growth.

[PG&E] now invests about $5 billion a year in our electric and gas systems, from new gas pipelines to intelligent electric switches that sense problems and re-route power automatically to avoid outages. As we adopt more and more clean energy, advanced energy storage, and smart grid technology, we and other utilities need well-trained, versatile workers, capable of handling the latest tools and technology.

The IBEW and the National Electrical Contractors Association have the biggest and most advanced electrical training program in the United States, produced thousands of journeymen electricians every year.

Read Hill’s and Earley’s op-ed here.