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Focus - Electrical contractors positioned to thrive

image David Long, Chief Executive Officer, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Bethesda, MD

SAN ANTONIO - Electrical contractors are well positioned to thrive in today’s economy, but there are additional challenges to overcome in the years ahead. An overarching issue facing the electrical construction industry is a protracted worker shortage at all levels due to market demands. Challenges of innovation and generational change are forcing contractors to adjust to a shifting landscape.



    As a result, they have employed a variety of approaches to minimize their impact, including increased recruitment, pre-fab, technology adoption, pre-apprentice programs, college partnerships and training programs around specific skill sets. I am proud that the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) plays a pivotal role in the growth of contractors every day.
    First and foremost, safety is of paramount interest to our thousands of electrical contractors and their employees across the country. NECA participates with many federal agencies and consensus organizations in the development and implementation of safety-related requirements. They include the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Advisory Committee on Construction Occupational Safety and Health (ACCOSH), the Small Business Administration Safety Roundtable, the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) A-10 Committee on Construction and Demolition Operations, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) National Occupation Research Agenda (NORA) committee. We are also a key partner on the Electrical Transmission and Distribution (ET&D) OSHA Strategic Partnership (OSP). This partnership consists of utility contractors, trade associations, labor organizations, electrical utilities, and OSHA representatives. It is the oldest and only national OSP that OSHA has in place.
    NECA also delivers continuing education both locally and nationally throughout the year. We stage the largest convention and trade show of its kind for the industry every fall. We will hold our annual event this September in Las Vegas, where in-depth education covers topics such as technology, leadership, communications, business development, and succession planning. Whether it’s learning about code changes or implementing a safety update, NECA provides support to members at every level of the industry. The new NECA Learning Center offers a wide range of educational programs to help NECA’s contractors grow, such as state-approved code courses for CEUs as well as courses in project management, project controls and project contracts, general business, and line foremanship fundamentals.
    Advocacy is a central part of NECA’s mission. To help ensure a climate that is conducive to business growth, NECA has a strong presence in Washington, D.C. We represent the electrical industry on Capitol Hill and the White House and interact with policymakers on both sides of the pollical aisle. NECA supports the passage of a significant infrastructure investment package, the permanency of tax code changes enacted in 2017, and the modernization of the multiemployer pension system. One of NECA’s top legislative priorities, allowing 529 savings plans to be used in apprenticeship programs, passed through the House of Representatives in May and is now before the Senate for consideration.
    NECA’s focus on advocacy extends to industry codes and standards. Since the founding of NECA in 1901, we have had direct involvement in the development of requirements in the National Electrical Code (NEC). The NECA Codes and Standards Committee provides effective representation of electrical contractors in the rulemaking process. Many changes in the 2020 edition of the NEC address new and emerging technology and industry trends while maintaining effective relevance of the NEC each three-year code development cycle. A few revisions that have a broader impact on electrical construction and system installation will cover installations providing shore power to watercraft in marinas and boatyards, including monitoring leakage current and installations used to export power from electric vehicles to premises wiring. In addition, the 2017 edition of the NEC has been revised globally to specifically include rules related to the use of reconditioned equipment.
    Lastly, a key area of focus is business development. Our goal is to help NECA contractors get more work from current and prospective customers through programs like the NECA Service Network. They help members prepare for opportunities in new markets such as renewable energy, smart cities, electric vehicle, and the Internet of Things (IoT) through programs like NECA’s Energy and Conservation Performance (ECAP) platform. Of course, we are always trying to draw attention to the cutting-edge work our members do every day, and that’s why we are proud to present our annual NECA Project Excellence Awards to best-in-class projects in 12 different categories.
    Changes in the electrical industry have affected every aspect of contractors’ work from technology and workforce development to budgeting, estimating, project management and much more. NECA helps members understand and embrace disruptions in a manner that aids them in becoming the source that brings value to their customers. -cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net