North Point elec­tri­cal trades pro­gram gets a jolt

Maryland Independent - - Business -

The av­er­age house in the United States is 43 years old, and the av­er­age age of an elec­tri­cian is 56. To­gether, the statis­tics re­veal the need to bol­ster the elec­tri­cian work­force, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease.

The push to­ward re­new­able, ef­fi­cient en­ergy and so­lar power means older homes need ren­o­va­tion to sup­port new tech­nol­ogy. Skilled elec­tri­cians are needed for all of it.

“The in­dus­try is at the tip­ping point,” David Qu­atela, brand strat­egy man­ager at Siemens, a man­u­fac­tur­ing and elec­tron­ics com­pany, re­cently told mem­bers of the elec­tri­cal con­struc­tion pro­gram at North Point High School. “You guys will be on the front lines. There is lots of work for you.”

North Point was named an SI-School, one of seven in the coun­try to of­fer hands-on train­ing in the field of low volt­age elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing train­ing, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease. Siemens pro­vides res­i­den­tial elec­tri­cal equip­ment for stu­dents to prac­tice ad­vanced wiring skills while be­com­ing fa­mil­iar with tech­nolo­gies used in the elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing field.

“The tech­nol­ogy is al­ways evolv­ing,” said Va­lerie Schi­cho, a Siemens rep­re­sen­ta­tive, in the re­lease. “We look at what’s go­ing on in the mar­ket and work on so­lu­tions to help meet the needs.”

There is a push to ren­o­vate older homes — houses not equipped to han­dle big screen tele­vi­sions, com­put­ers and the house­hold ap­pli­ances of the 21st cen­tury. “This is the stuff we’re run­ning into,” Schi­cho said. “Peo­ple can’t mi­crowave and watch TV at the same time with­out trip­ping [the elec­tri­cal sys­tem].”

The 28 elec­tri­cal con­struc­tion stu­dents at North Point have al­ready started work­ing on the Siemens do­nated equip­ment. Some stu­dents will likely go fur­ther with the knowl­edge they gain in the pro­gram; oth­ers will go into other lines of study.

Joel Mul­bah, a se­nior, said he is in­ter­ested in own­ing his own busi­ness, but doesn’t know ex­actly what he wants to do. He was in­ter­ested in learn­ing about the trends in the con­struc­tion busi­ness.

“I’d like to be in­volved in ev­ery­thing,” Mul­bah said.

“You’re just start­ing out,” elec­tri­cal con­struc­tion teacher Keith Gas­con told his stu­dents, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease. “Our pro­gram is de­signed to get you started. We’re try­ing to ex­pose you to all the dif­fer­ent places you can go. You’re learn­ing the ba­sics. But there’s a whole heck­uva a lot more to learn.”

The trends point to builders fo­cus­ing on re­new­able and en­vi­ron­men­tally sound en­ergy equip­ment in­stal­la­tions. “But they have no one who knows how to in­stall it prop­erly,” Schi­cho said. “We’re com­ing into a field of growth that we have never seen be­fore. Elec­tri- cians and plumbers are in the high­est de­mand in con­struc­tion right now. The jobs are there, and they pay good.”

Jim Law­son, a sales man­ager for Shep­herd Elec­tric who works with Siemens, agreed. Based in Fred­er­ick, he sees the re­gional mar­ket boom­ing, in­clud­ing South­ern Mary­land.

“In the Bal­ti­more-Wash­ing­ton, D.C., area we don’t make any­thing here, ex­cept laws,” he told the stu­dents, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease. “But we have hos­pi­tals, uni­ver­si­ties, the fed­eral govern­ment. There’s a lot of baby boomers and not a lot of you guys. Your gen­er­a­tion has to pick up where we left off.”

“If we don’t have peo­ple to do the work, the work is not get­ting done,” Schi­cho added, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease.

The next gen­er­a­tion of elec­tri­cal con­struc­tion work­ers and en­gi­neers will shape the fu­ture use of in­creas­ingly en­ergy ef­fi­cient tech­nolo­gies.

“The world is want­ing for what’s run­ning through your heads,” said Law­son, adding that many ad­vances in the field of elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing come from the peo­ple do­ing the work on job sites. “The in­dustr y is wait­ing to hear your ideas.”

David Qu­atela, right, a brand strat­egy man­ager at Siemens, talks with North Point High School ju­nior Isa­iah Ed­mond. Siemens, a man­u­fac­tur­ing and elec­tron­ics com­pany, has started a SIS­chool pro­gram at North Point.

Jim Law­son, left, a sales man­ager for Shep­hard Elec­tric, talks with Joel Mul­bah, a North Point High School se­nior and mem­ber of the elec­tri­cal con­struc­tion pro­gram, dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion by Siemens.

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