For 165 Local Residents, a New Career Commences

Published on June 18, 2009

LANHAM, MD— JUNE 18, 2009—Although the national economy still may be challenging for many job seekers, 165 new electricians launched into a new lifetime career on June 6, 2009. They graduated from the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee’s (JATC) electrical apprenticeship program. This organization is sponsored jointly by Local Union 26 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).
The graduation celebration for the class of 2009 was convened at Martin’s Crosswinds in Greenbelt, MD. Festivities were organized and conducted by training director, David A. McCord. He was a graduate of the apprenticeship program and has served as training director for 15 years overseeing training at state-of-art training centers in Lanham, MD and Manassas, VA with satellite facilities in Charles County, MD and Roanoke, VA.  The ceremony is the culmination of 800 hours of classroom instruction and 10,000 hours of supervised on the job training over a five-year period. The apprentices can choose from among several optional specialized certifications, including green jobs such as solar installation.
Unlike college formats, these apprentices are paid for attending class, and receive regular pay raises on the job as their skill and experience increases. Starting pay is more than five times the national minimum wage, with annual raises guaranteed. In addition, they receive excellent health and welfare benefits, including family members. The work is challenging, both in the classroom and on-site. But, many find the rewards more than compensating. Twenty-eight graduates in the class of 2009 were honored for their excellent academic achievements with final grade averages above 90. Three achieved valedictorian status; Todd M. Charron (96.4), Bryan S. Myers (93.72) and Susuana Danful (92.78). In addition, ten apprentice graduates were recognized for perfect attendance throughout the full five-year schedule.
After thanking the training staff and industry sponsors, valedictorian, Todd M. Charron commented, “Graduation is not the end, but the start of a new career. We’re in an industry that will literally power the future.” He added later, “College is not for everyone but that does not mean that education isn't for everyone. I went to college and earned my Bachelor's degree.  I changed careers and entered this program because it gave me a sense of pride. At the end of the day you can see what you accomplished and be proud of the work you have done. The apprenticeship program is challenging, both mentally and physically. You have to be prepared to invest you time and efforts, but it is absolutely worth it.  I encourage anyone who wants to continue learning but who also wants to do hands on work to consider the JATC programs.”
The graduating apprentices are some of the 800 trainees preparing for their place among the more than 8,400 members of IBEW Local 26 who are employed by some 200 union signatory contractors. The electrical apprenticeship training program for the electrical industry was launched officially in 1948 and now invests about $100 million nationally per year in preparing new entrants to succeed in the creation of our electrified infrastructure.
The metro JATC for the electrical industry is coordinated by members representing both management and labor. Chairman is Charles E. (Chuck) Graham, Jr., business manager of Local 26 and Vice-Chairman is Steven P. Kelly, president of John E.Kelly & Sons Electrical Construction, Inc. 
In his remarks to the graduates, Graham said, “Our institution is always an impressive sight to government and industry visitors who come to see the new modern facilities.”
Kelly, also a graduate of the program, congratulated the graduating apprentices and remarked, “Today is about success for the graduates. The dedication and persistence evidenced by these new electricians endow them with qualities for lifelong advancement.”
NECA Washington, D.C. Chapter Executive Director, Andrew A. Porter commented, “The better pay and benefits, plus the security of being part of a vast international association of organized labor and management seems to be a very attractive option for many folks. Some parents of high school students may find that this option is a better choice than the uncertainty and financial debt that a college degree involves.”