Massive Need for New Electrical Workers Predicted for U.S.

Statistics recently released by the U.S. Department of Labor show that America will need to train more than 270,000 new electrical and power-line workers by 2016, according to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Bethesda, Md.

The figures, reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its 2008-2009 Occupational Outlook Handbook, predict that between 2006 and 2016 an annual average of 27,000 new electricians will be needed to accommodate growth in the industry and to replace those leaving the workforce — with a total turnover rate of nearly 27 percent of the workforce. By 2016, the number of electrical and power-line workers is expected to reach 877,000, with an increase of 66,000 jobs beyond the 2006 level of 817,000.

“It's imperative that we recruit and train the next generation of electricians today, because many electrical jobs require years of classroom and hands-on training before the necessary levels of worker quality and safety can be achieved. And being taught by experienced craftsmen is by far the best way to convey those skills,” says Ed Hill, president of the IBEW.

To address that need, IBEW and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) are ramping up recruiting efforts, including using tools such as job fairs, DVDs, websites like, even sponsoring a NASCAR racer to help raise visibility.

“The need for skilled electrical workers to meet the growing demands of our high-tech society is a concern that cuts across geographical borders,” says E. Milner Irvin, president of NECA. “Through our National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, we offer young people the unmatched educational resources of America's largest electrical training program — and the chance to join the best-trained, most up-to-date electrical apprentices and journeymen in the country.”

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