October 23, 2012
IBEW prepares for next generation of Canadian electrical infrastructure
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is preparing its membership for the next generation of electrical infrastructure in Canada.
At its recent All Canada Progress Meeting in Halifax, Ryan Bradt, assistant training director at the Northwest Washington Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee gave an overview of the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) in the United States.
“From a NextGen perspective, our group was really excited, just that we’re on the forefront of going after these emerging markets and that we’re thinking about it and that we’re thinking green and seeing how we can better ourselves to adapt to changing industries,” said Kate Walsh, IBEW strategic coordinator for the NextGen initiative.
The NextGen initiative held a caucus at this year’s All Canada meeting to get young members involved in the union.
Bradt’s presentation said it is important to embrace emerging electric technologies early. If electricians wait, others will fill the subject matter expert “vacuum” and “they may or may not have skills and expertise as great as electrical contracting industry professionals,” said his presentation.
When low standards are set, says Bradt, low cost is the primary determining factor.
“When high standards are set, highly professional contractors and workers are recognized for their expertise, safety and performance.”
EVITP has certified over 1,000 electricians for the proper installation of electric vehicle supply equipment.
An electric vehicle was at the presentation.
“Everyone got to go out and see hands-on and explain from that perspective what infrastructure was needed, what work that would entail,” explained Walsh.
The partnership between the Canadian district of the IBEW and the Canadian Electrical Contractors Association (CECA) created the National Electrical Trade Council (NETCO) to provide leadership through national coordination on workforce skills development and public policy issues of importance to the electrical industry in Canada.
It is important for NETCO to be “front and centre” in regards to new issues like electric vehicles and renewable energy. NETCO has formed a partnership with the Canadian Standards Association to conduct testing on any programs NETCO puts in place dealing with solar and wind power.
“We see ourselves and NETCO as being kind of the national training council that will then put standards nationally across Canada so that we have those standards that are common from one province to the next to do that type of work. As more issues come up, then we would do training on those issues that would have common standards across the country in the electrical industry,” said IBEW first district Canada international vice-president Phil Flemming.
At the All Canada meeting, IBEW passed a motion to put one cent per hour worked across Canada into NETCO, which Flemming expects will generate between $500,000 and $600,000 a year to run the council so as not to rely on government funding.
“We think we need national standards across the country. That’s what we’re aiming for,” he said.
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