WASHINGTON, D.C.- The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is working hand-in-hand with the IBEW to expand the skillsets and quantity of electricians to achieve the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of creating a 100% clean electricity grid by 2035.
To reach this decarbonization goal, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) expects the solar industry will need to grow to between 500,000 and 1,500,000 workers by 2035. This workforce need is due to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, with solar power potentially contributing up to one third of the U.S. electricity supply. Therefore, a new federal initiative has been put into place to help extend these trade opportunities into underrepresented communities.
The Advancing Equity through Workforce Partnerships Funding Program is a $13.5 million program, including $10 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to support training partnerships. The goal is to increase the solar energy workforce in underserved and underrepresented communities, as well as create career pathways with thousands of good-paying jobs.
NECA/IBEW Joint Apprenticeship Training Centers (JATCs) around the country have been working to address this workforce crisis for decades. The DOE announced on June 13, 2023, that 12 projects were selected for negotiation to expand training partnerships that align with the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal. Four of the projects awarded grants from this program are NECA/IBEW JATCs. Accounting for a third of the selected projects, NECA is proud to recognize its following organizations as recipients:
- Crater Lake Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Center (Central Point, OR): In partnership with the National Electrical Contractors Association/International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Oregon Pacific Cascade Chapter, NECA and IBEW Local 659), this project will develop a new union-based electrician pre-apprenticeship course for high school students in underserved rural and tribal communities in Southern Oregon and Utah. (Award: $1,500,000)
- Emerald Cities Collaborative (Seattle, WA): In partnership with union-led training centers, this project will create one of the first dedicated solar installer trainings and union-based electrical pre-apprenticeship programs in the state of Washington for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. (Award: $725,000)
- Kern Community College District (Bakersfield, CA): In partnership with IBEW, this project will provide solar installation career-track training and electrical apprenticeship readiness training with opportunities for union membership for participants from disadvantaged communities in the Central Valley of California. (Award: $1,000,000)
- Worksystems (Portland, OR): In partnership with NECA/IBEW, this project will create training and placement resources for diverse jobseekers to enter quality jobs in solar installation and related occupations, including union electrical careers across the Portland metro region. (Award: $1,000,000)
“Having four JATCs recognized as part of this program signifies the importance of highly trained and skilled workers,” said NECA’s CEO David Long. “NECA is extremely proud of the pre-apprenticeship efforts made by our Association, contractor members, and union partners to continually strengthen the electrical industry- a sector that’s needed now more than ever.”NECA’s priorities line up directly with those of this program, to encourage accessible jobs to workers from all backgrounds, to provide competitive wages and benefits as well as offer opportunities for union membership.