The construction industry could face a shortage of more than 1.6 million workers over the next half decade. Despite offering high wages for in-demand and highly skilled positions, 600,000 skilled jobs are going unfilled, and 10 million new tradespeople are needed by 2020. Southwire, among other forward-looking companies, is preparing young workers to fill that potential skills gap through training and apprenticeship programs. To build strong relationships with younger, less experienced electricians, we are collaborating with National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) to train the next generation of electrical workers.
Through the electrical training ALLIANCE, NECA and the IEC, we support Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) and SkillsUSA—vocational training programs for apprentice electricians across the country. Companies often donate supplies for continuing education and training events they host with industry partners. For example, we provide supplies for “wire-offs”—events in which electricians compete to wire systems. We also donate employee hours to train contractors through product demonstrations, events that often count for their continuing education requirements.
“In our 285 training centers across the country, we’re able to bring in the wire pulling and the latest technologies,” says Marty Reisberg of the electrical training ALLIANCE. “It’s very important to us that we work with Southwire to stay up on the technology.” By introducing each new generation of apprentices to our products, we maximize our efforts to make the industry safer and more sustainable.
In our value chain, we celebrate the same drive and commitment to training skilled workers. SkillsUSA recently recognized our customer, Lowe’s Home Improvement, for their gift of $1.5 million. Lowe’s has contributed $14 million to SkillsUSA over the last ten years. SkillsUSA success stories include high-school students, adult learners and multi-generational families who turned toward technical education experiences to find new or expanded opportunities. SkillsUSA programs led these participants to college scholarships, service work, second careers, travel, small-business ownership and greater employability and academic engagement. Skilled worker education is a community investment model we share with Lowe’s and others, as an opportunity to create shared value in our communities and in our business.
This shared value model benefits donor companies, future skilled workers and communities—companies help educate the upcoming generation of skilled workers, and these new electricians learn about groundbreaking products, which focus on their safety. By filling the skills gap with well-trained, safety-conscious tradespeople, Southwire, Lowe’s and others power the future of the American economy.