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March 24, 2005

Historic moment for labour organization

New IBEW training centre opens doors in Puerto Rico

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), an international labour organization with members in Canada, has opened the first multi-employer electrical apprenticeship training centre in Puerto Rico.

The IBEW says the centre, which officially opened March 1, marks a crucial first step in achieving a uniform skill level for the island’s construction electricians.

The educational centre offers Puerto Rico’s electricians the opportunity to upgrade their abilities to meet the highest standards in electrical construction.

IBEW international president Edwin Hill said it’s a historic moment for the IBEW.

“For the first time in Puerto Rico, contractors, builders and all users of construction will have a benchmark by which to judge the abilities of electricians.

“Soon, everyone in the Puerto Rican business community will know that IBEW means the most experienced, best qualified electricians in construction.”

The centre is a co-operative effort of the IBEW, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), a group of 70,000 electrical contractors, and the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC), an educational partnership of IBEW and NECA that spends $100 million annually to develop the electrical workforce of the future.

The three-storey, 8,700-square-foot facility in Dorado will also serve as the administrative offices of newly chartered IBEW Local 950.

Featuring conduit-bending and transformer labs, theory classrooms and eight jobsite-comparable evaluation stations, the centre will be staffed by NJATC-certified instructors.

Juan Pagán, president of the Puerto Rico Electrical Trade Association, is the education director.

All training material at the centre is in English, and for the sake of safety and uniformity, IBEW members must have basic proficiency in English. A key component of the instruction at the educational facility will be in English as Second Language classes. Most instructors at the centre are bilingual.

One of the first tasks of Local 950’s charter members will be to adopt the IBEW Fifth District’s Code of Excellence, a written commitment to demonstrate to customers that IBEW members perform the highest quality of work, utilize their skills and abilities to the maximum, and exercise safe and productive work practices.

To maintain a uniformly qualified workforce, potential IBEW members must take evaluations that test the full scope of skills required to install electrical components and systems.

The IBEW has approximately 750,000 members in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Republic of Panama. Workers are employed in construction, utilities, manufacturing, telecommunications, broadcasting, railroads and government.

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