Keeping Up With Demand for Qualified and Highly Skilled Electricians

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Meeting Southern California’s insatiable demand for qualified and up-to-date electricians has become the top priority of the San Bernardino-based Inland Empire Electrical Training Center.   Over the next 10 years, the Inland Empire is expected to produce only about half of the journeymen electricians needed to fulfill the construction needs of the local electrical, transportation and telecommunications industry.

It’s a good problem.   The San Bernardino-based Inland Empire Electrical Training center faces a daunting challenge to meet a looming shortage of journeymen electricians across Southern California.

The number of available qualified and up-to-date electricians will only meet about half of the region’s demand over the next 10 years, said IEETC Training Director, Rick Purper.  So, meeting that demand has become training center’s top priority.

The IEETC provides the best trained and most highly skilled workers in the country for the electrical, transportation, and telecommunication industry.  The Training Center is a partnership between the Southern Sierras Chapter of National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Locals 440 and 477.    It’s funded through a private cooperative effort between labor and management in which 75-cents for every hour worked by journeymen electricians goes to the IEETC to train more workers.

Money is not an issue in this situation.  Interest, however, is a problem.

The IEETC has started a community outreach at schools, career fairs, boot camps for kids and speakers bureaus to attract young men and women to the field.   But Purper finds many young people have no stomach or acumen for the trade.

“Many young people these days want to be video game designers, or models,” Purper said.  “When they see our display at career fairs, they say it looks like work.”

The other problem he said is many young people are under the impression that a trade doesn’t pay as well, or offer benefits as good as other fields which require a four-year college degree.

The training director adds the misnomer is a little ironic since apprentices in the IEETC can earn good money along the way, and they can earn college credits for that two-year degree too.

Apprentice electricians start at $15 an hour, plus benefits.   Within a decade, they can become journeymen and earn more than $50 an hour with benefits.  Still, it takes a dedicated student to get there.

“It’s not for everyone,” Purper said.  “It’s a great career for people who want to work with their hands and immediately see the result of their labor.”

Even though the demand far outpaces the supply of highly trained and skilled electricians, and interest in the field is less than overwhelming, Purper is not worried.  “We’re going to be ok,” he said.

There is no shortage of applicants to the next IEETC school year at the Riverside Community College satellite campus in Norco starting in August.  “We still have more than 250 applicants trying to get in.”

The diversity of the applicants is also greater than ever before.  Half or more of our local applicants are now Hispanic, Purper said.

Interested applicants should go to the IEETC’s website at to see when to apply and the necessary qualifications.


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