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Safety and Excellence Guaranteed with an ECAO and IBEW Apprenticeship

April 10, 2018
IBEW Local 353 apprentices at Skills

IBEW Local 353 apprentices at SkillsThe International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO) work together to provide a strong and vibrant apprenticeship program recognized as number one across the electrical industry. 

Each registered apprentice is part of a network of journeypersons, training providers, employers, and in-house counselors that make up the support system needed for an electrical apprentice to become a certified electrician.

Safety is a crucial component of electrical trade.  The electrical industry needs to continue to tightly regulate and provide strict guidelines for minimum training and experience with the Electrical Codes and Standards. This ensures that not only are all installations completed safely but as well, remain safe throughout the designed lifespan.

“If unskilled and/or poorly trained workers were permitted to complete installations without understanding or regard for the hazards involved  we would see an increase in the harms resulting from electrical hazards,” says Virginia Pohler, an Electrical Consultant and Trainer with Donald R. McNichol Consultant Inc.

An apprentice with IBEW and ECAO is guided through a five-year program that includes a mix of classroom (at the college level) as well as on-the-job training.  On the job site,  apprentices are paired with a journeyperson, to ensure proper training of safety standards and proper instruction of hands-on electrical tasks. The IBEW and ECAO ensure that the legally required ratio to apprenticeship requirements are followed to ensure adequate levels of safety oversight and training.

The 2013 Ontario Construction Secretariat Completion Counts study found that “75% of apprentices registered in four compulsory trades (Electricians, Sheet Metal Worker, Plumber and Steamfitter) at joint union/employer training centres go on to complete their training and become certified journeypersons.”

Adam Hicks, Project Manager with Alltrade Industrial Contractors says the demand for experienced electricians continues to grow.

“We are currently experiencing more requests for skilled trades than ever before, along with the amount of people currently in the retirement bubble, we are at risk in the coming years of being in a shortage of skilled trades positions,” he says. Pohler adds that the demand for specialized skill sets around energy management and automation is growing.

“Although there continues to be a need for those with the basic trade skills involved in electrical installations, we are seeing a big change in lighting and automation technology which means the installation itself requires less skill, but the knowledge required to make it work is increasing,” she says.

The IBEW and ECAO’s apprenticeship program meets the demand of a continuously changing industry. In addition to mastering the scopes of practice, an apprentice also gains priceless and life-saving knowledge about safety hazards and proper protection.

If you are interested in learning more about the Scopes of Practice for the Trade of Electrician, visit:
Learn more about ECAO and the IBEW at

  • Written by Iram Partap

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