Revamped Electrical Contractor Training Prioritizes Technology - Sachse Construction
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Revamped Electrical Contractor Training Prioritizes Technology

The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) has revamped its apprenticeship training program to include more technology training, reported Engineering News-Record.

The recent overhaul is the first significant update to the program in 20 years. NECA’s training center has 5,000 members and obtaining a license requires a five-year apprenticeship. To maintain a license, each worker must participate in 24 hours of continuing education classes every three years.

Rod Belisle, training director at the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center in Portland, Oregon, told ENR that the center had been working on the concept of integrating more tech since January. “We started integrating BIM into our apprenticeship program and also offering it to journeymen. Once we got the modeling software into the classroom, it felt like the next natural thing to do was to take other parts of the curriculum that are based on paper blueprints and slowly transition them to electronic documentation.”

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Although they’re nearly dead-last in terms of industries’ adopting technology, the engineering and construction sectors are undergoing major tech transitions. As part of this tech wave, NECA’s apprentice program includes training in electronic documentation and collaboration platform PlanGrid. Since its inception in 2011, PlanGrid has continued to enhance its value to the industry through initiatives like its partnership with Dropbox, announced earlier this year, which allows users to upload and transfer plans from PlanGrid’s app to Dropbox and vice versa.

PlanGrid CEO and co-founder Tracy Young told Construction Dive last year that when the company first began, people expressed interest in the platform but mobile devices weren’t ubiquitous. “It’s a very different conversation now,” she said.

McKinsey & Company studied more than 1,000 construction software startups and their products to determine common use cases. Available technology fell into three main categories: on-site execution, which included field productivity, safety monitoring and quality control; digital collaboration, which included design, contract, performance and document management; and back-office integration.

With such a range available, it’s increasingly vital that construction professionals be trained on how to use technologies effectively. In addition to learning software programs and apps, some facilities are employing tech to strengthen hands-on training. An education and training facility in Reno, Nevada, for example, will use the region’s first virtual reality construction heavy equipment simulators in its heavy equipment operator training program. The tool, developed by Caterpillar, marries original controls to common machine applications.

Other tech-heavy training opportunities include a luffing tower crane training pack from Canadian firm CM Labs Simulation and Serious Labs’ aerial virtual reality training simulator, which combines the company’s scissor and boom lift programs.

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