The St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers (SLCCC) has presented the Electrical Connection with an Inclusion Award for its efforts to strengthen diversity in the St. Louis construction industry. The Electrical Connection is a partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).
In earning the SLCCC’s Organizational Excellence for Inclusion Award, the Electrical Connection was saluted for taking a holistic approach to investment in training and creatively expanding outreach to minority communities. Today more than 25 percent of apprentices accepted in the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center are minorities. IBEW/NECA invest $3 million annually in training, developing highly complex electrical and communication technology skills. The training center has a graduation rate of more than 90 percent. Its career-building education is free of charge, at no taxpayer expense, and allows apprentices to earn a living with benefits as they develop the skills and safety needed for next generation electrical and communications installations.
Ten years ago, the Great Recession devastated the ranks of the region’s skilled construction workforce. Many dropped out of the industry or moved away. IBEW/NECA fortified its investment in training from 8,000 hours to 10,000 hours in 2011. It also tasked its Electrical Connection partnership to develop new strategies to energize minority outreach through its business relationships and partnerships.
Among those in the minority community who have benefited from the outreach is 47-year-old Trisa Newburn whose massage therapy business was shut down by the Great Recession. Now in her final year of apprenticeship at the training center, Newburn is on the threshold becoming an IBEW electrician. “This career would be great for lots of people nowadays especially when you can get out of college and still not have a job. I can get out of school and have many jobs to go to, with good money,” noted Newburn in a Feb. 22, 2018 Fox 2 story on the recovery and resiliency of the St. Louis construction industry.
One of the biggest IBEW/NECA investments was made in fall 2017, when it committed $500,000 to a STEM education partnership with the Saint Louis Science Center that fortifies an eight-year-long commitment helping schools improve science, technology, engineering and math education. The investment helps the Science Center reach more schools serving minority communities.
“The Science Center’s mission is to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning,” said Bert Vescolani, president and CEO, Saint Louis Science Center. “The Electrical Connection is a great partner in advancing that mission while broadening outreach to minority communities, where we work together to cultivate greater opportunities for minorities in the electrical trades.”
Other investments and outreach has included:
- Effective STEM partnerships that unite programs like the Saint Louis Science Center and FIRSTRobotics with the unique skills of the electrical industry that are in high demand to serve science and technology. STEM subjects are connected to electrical careers in compelling ways as more than 10,000 students have been engaged in school districts with a significant minority student body.
- Connecting its education programs with key business/education organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers, St. Louis Gateway Chapter; American Association of Blacks in Energy, St. Louis Chapter; Project Lead the Way(Jennings School District) and more.
- Creating a career development education partnership with St. Louis Community Collegein 2017 that allows apprentices and journey workers to earn associate degrees.
- Participation in more than 20 career fairs annually at high schools throughout the area and furthering outreach through its membership in Missouri School Board Associationand the Missouri Association of School Administrators.
- Publicizing details of compelling transitions to electrical careers by minorities
- Fully supporting the Building Union Diversity (BUD)program, a series of nine-week pre-apprenticeship training programs that ready minority construction career aspirants for apprenticeship training.
- Creatively broadening outreach through trust-building programs aimed at younger children through its $10,000 support of the Ferguson “Shop with a Cop”program 2016 and 2017. The charity helped familiarize young children with the electrical industry
- Continuing support of the Regional Union Construction Centerand its mission of creating a sustainable minority contracting community.
The St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers represents the buyers of construction services in the St. Louis region. Learn more at www.slccc.net.
Members of the Electrical Connection provide safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world. For more information visit www.electricalconnection.org.
Image above, L to R: Carol Daniel, KMOX; Mike Newton, IBEW Local 1; Ramon Tumblin-Rucker, BJC HealthCare and SLCCC Diversity Committee chair; Frank Jacobs, IBEW Local 1; and St. Louis NECA representative Ken Naumann, Kaiser Electric.