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IBEW Local 1687 receives provincial funding to implement virtual training program

August 26, 2021

IBEW Local Union 1687 (Sudbury) will receive $467,500 in provincial funding to bolster training efforts for current and future members in Northeastern Ontario.

Enhancing learning opportunities for IBEW Local 1687 members

Part of a $115 million Skills Development Fund to address a gap in the skills trades, IBEW L.U. 1687 will use the funding to implement an online Learning Management System (LMS) for their current and future members.  This will include developing an online curriculum and upgrading their audio/visual equipment.  These upgrades will allow the local to deliver professionally produced training videos. 

“We’re extremely excited to provide our membership with on-demand learning opportunities,” IBEW L.U. 1687 Business Manager, Travis Merrett beams.  “Developing an online catalogue for our members will allow them to ‘brush up’ on specific skills required from job-to-job.  It will also allow them to stay up to-date-on emerging technologies and new learning opportunities as well.”

The LMS will be accessible to members 24/7.  New courses would be added or updated and members’ progress will be tracked in order to provide relevant Certificates of Completion. 

Addressing current barriers to electrical training

While the local’s Training Centre operates out of Sudbury, the geographic area of membership spans far greater.  One of the largest IBEW locals in the country, IBEW L.U. 1687’s districts include the likes of Algoma, Cochrane, Nipissing, Sudbury, Timiskaming, Manitoulin Island and Parry Sound. In-person training is not easy for members living in remote areas such as Moose Factory, Ontario.  Transportation itself could take days and then add the cost of accommodations, meals, etc.

This creates barriers for those looking to upgrade their skills or stay atop new and emerging technologies.  Travis is committed to addressing this challenge.  “We applied for this grant to help remove these barriers for both current and future members,” comments Merrett.  “Technology has proven to be an effective tool to keep us moving forward over this past year.  We want to ensure this trend continues within our local; not only to accommodate training needs when health restrictions are in place, but also address the geographic barriers we face day to day.”

Reaching remote, Northern Ontario communities

Currently, IBEW L.U. 1687 faces a challenge in connecting with and offering training to remote, northern communities, including First Nation communities.  “In the past, we’ve taken in membership within these communities but our ability to offer training and maintain the relationship has been limited,” says Merrett.  “We hope these enhancements will open up new opportunities with First Nation communities and beyond.  Being able to offer a more robust library of continued education and career advancements is key.  Membership will be much more attractive.”

These enhancements also benefit ECAO/IBEW contactors.  “Knowing that their employees have access to a robust learning system will ensure continued education opportunities.  I don’t know of any employers who would be opposed to that.”

Learning from other IBEW Local Unions to ensure success

IBEW L.U. 2085 in Winnipeg, Manitoba has already implemented a Learning Management System for their membership and their knowledge and experience has been a huge asset for the Sudbury Local.   “We’re very fortunate to have a strong relationship with IBEW L.U. 2085,” says Merrett.  “Obviously, electrical training is very specialized.  Having a partner in Local 2085 who understands the challenges of virtual training in our trade has been instrumental.  Going through the process themselves and sharing their knowledge will help make our development process more efficient.” 

Travis and his team at L.U. 1687 are extremely grateful for the knowledge shared by the IBEW team in Manitoba.  Special acknowledgement goes out L.U. 2085 Business Manager Russ Shewchuk, Business Rep. Jeffrey Skinner, Training Director Chris Taran, Training Instructor Steven Sprange, and the rest of their team for their commitment and passion in creating critical and up-to-date training for members of IBEW 2085. “Every current and future member of L.U. 1687 will benefit from the contributions they have made to training and a special thank you goes out to the time and effort they are putting in to helping our local achieve the same level of career advancement and education.”

Looking forward to a bright future in virtual training

The team at IBEW Local 1687 is set to begin curriculum development in September and will look to begin rolling out the platform in early 2022.

“It’s important to note that our trade is very experienced based,” adds Merrett.  “Especially when it comes to training new apprentices, theory only goes so far.  There will always be a practical, hands-on component to ensure proper training.  Our hope is to create more efficiencies with in-person requirements and to ensure the training that can be delivered virtually is available to our members.”

If you live in Northern Ontario and interested in applying to become an apprentice with IBEW Local 1687, please read more about the Northern Ontario Joint Apprenticeship Council (NOJAC) intake process and complete the application.

For those currently employed in and working in the trade in the Greater Sudbury and northern communities, please visit IBEW 1687’s Membership Development page and contact Chase Beaudoin to learn more about the benefits of becoming a member of the IBEW with L.U. 1687:

Chase Beaudoin
TN: 705-566-1687 

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