NEW YORK — Faced with a critical shortage of electrical and IT wiring professionals, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) have blanketed the nation's high schools with “career action kits” on the benefits of their earn-as-you-learn apprenticeships. According to NECA, these apprenticeships offer on-the-job training, a chance to earn college credits and, upon program completion, jobs that can start as high as $50,000 to $70,000 a year.

“Although most young people today are wired into high tech, too few are exploring the technical side of electrical and electronic careers outside the traditional four-year college track,” said NECA-IBEW officials.

The two associations are touting financial rewards and career skills training available through the NECA-IBEW sponsored apprenticeship programs. Provided under the auspices of their National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC), the three-to-five-year apprenticeships offer qualified participants competitive pay, health and pension benefits and the opportunity to earn college credits while receiving on-the-job training.

NJATC apprentices typically earn between $80,000 and $150,000 over their full training period, according to NECA. Upon graduation, NECA said apprentices can earn as much as $50,000 to $70,000 a year, depending on their chosen specialty and location. The most popular programs are for commercial-building electricians and telecom wiring installer/technicians.

“If America is to be globally competitive, it must attract more people to electrical and technical careers,” said John Grau, NECA's chief executive officer. “U.S. productivity today is tied to computer and telecom systems, which require electrical and technical workers with the skills to configure and install sophisticated building-wide wiring systems.”

IBEW International President Edwin Hill estimates that over the next decade alone, NECA and IBEW will need to train more than 100,000 additional electricians and IT system installers to meet the wiring and cabling needs of business and industry.

“The demand for electrical and IT professionals will be red hot for years to come,” Hill said.

More than 300 NJATC programs are in operation across the country and more than 48,000 apprentices are currently enrolled in the multi-year training programs, including some 5,000 telecom installer/technician and 36,000 electrician apprentices.

Additional information about the NJATC apprenticeship programs is available on the NJATC Web site at www.njatc.org.