North Point electrical trades program gets a jolt
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.