NECA TransmissionsNotes from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry

Certification and Core Skills

Posted on Sep 17, 2007 by John M Grau

In response to my post “What Makes a Journeyman a Journeyman?” I received the following comment from Oregon-Pacific-Cascade Chapter Governor Nathan Phillips.

Your August 21 post regarding journeyman training and journeyman skill assessment raised a number of provocative questions about how to evaluate the effectiveness of our local training programs. What fell out of the discussion for me is a need to establish a set of metrics for assessing competencies that should be developed and disseminated nationally but adjusted locally. Mike Kanetsky’s report on the dismal success of the training in his area is both disheartening and not surprising. Many of us have sadly come to the realization that our vaunted training program can no longer be relied upon to effectively set us apart from our non-union competition with respect to the quality of the completed project and the productivity of our workforce. 

Although the license laws in my state provide a mechanism for assessing the code knowledge of our completed apprentices, we are sorely lacking a meaningful set of tools for identifying and evaluating the training outcomes in the broad range of skills and knowledge that are essential components of a well rounded journeyman. Whether we are concerned with rebuilding our market share or with satisfying the rapacious and growing workforce development demands, it is incumbent upon us to refocus our training efforts by validating outcomes through a consistent application of assessment tools. While these tools ought to provide the flexibility to tailor training and assessment to local needs, my view is that there is a core and essential set of skills and knowledge that all graduates of an NJATC program should possess.

Nathan raises some good points and I believe we’re addressing his issues in two ways.   First, through the NJATC we have developed an electrical worker craft certification. This is a voluntary program, but any area adopting it will have the assessment tools and metrics to validate training outcomes. 

Second, the NJATC is currently working on a project to determine the core skills required of all apprentices and then matching the curriculum and training programs to those needs. Once this assessment it complete, the information should allow local programs more flexibility while still maintaining a national training standard. I’ll provide more information on this in future discussions. Use the “Send Feedback” link below if you have additional comments or questions on this issue.

About NECA Transmissions

NECA Transmissions is a collaborative effort from CEO John Grau and NECA staff to provide insight and feedback on key issues from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry.


1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, D.C. 20004 United States |Phone: (202) 991-6300 |Fax: (301) 215-4500

|Contact NECA Webmaster

© Copyright NECA 1995-2011. All rights reserved