An organization representing the buyers of construction services is recognizing the Electrical Connection partnership for its efforts to strengthen diversity in the St. Louis construction industry. The St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers has named the Electrical Connection a finalist for its Inclusion Awards in the category of Organizational Excellence for Inclusion. 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).
The Electrical Connection was nominated for the award by Bert Vescolani, president and CEO, Saint Louis Science Center. In fall 2017, the Electrical Connection 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 Science Center reach more schools serving minority communities and is just one component in the Electrical Connection’s holistic approach to strengthen inclusion and diversity in the construction industry. Today more than 25% of apprentices accepted in the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center are minorities, up from the single digits during the Great Recession.
“The Science Center’s mission is to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning,” noted Vescolani in the nomination. “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.”
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 tasked its Electrical Connection partnership to develop new strategies to energize minority outreach through its business relationships and partnerships. This has included:
- Effective STEM partnerships that unite programs like the Saint Louis Science Center and FIRST Robotics 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 Louis Community College in 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 Association and 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 Center and its mission of creating a sustainable minority contracting community.
IBEW/NECA also fortified its investment in training from 8,000 hours to 10,000 hours in 2011 even though the region was still struggling to recover from the Great Recession. As always, the training is provided free of charge and apprentices can begin earning money as they learn the trade. The program is funded entirely by the IBEW/NECA partnership and at no expense to taxpayers. Mentoring is an integral part of apprenticeship training resulting in a 90% graduation rate.
Other finalist in the Inclusion Awards for organizational excellence are Building Futures, Trinity Masonry, and UP Companies. For more information visit the St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers web site at http://www.slccc.net/blog_home.asp?Display=15
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.