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Blinn certifies its largest electrical apprenticeship class in eight years

College’s Electrical Apprenticeship Program works directly with local employers to meet growing demand for electricians

August 16, 2017

Blinn College recently certified its largest class of electrical apprentices in eight years – the result of a partnership with local companies to advance their employees’ expertise.

Eighteen students successfully completed this year’s nine-month training course with the potential to increase their responsibilities and pay as they continue their education in the four-year program.

Launched in 2008, the Electrical Apprenticeship Program features four levels of instruction with approximately 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of classroom training each year.

Blinn works with local employers to establish an apprenticeship committee and standards of training, and to register the apprenticeship with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeships. Blinn is a partner in the Houston Apprenticeship Consortium, which includes other Texas community colleges, the Texas Carpenters and Millwrights Union, and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeships. The consortium was formed in 2015 to develop recommended standards for area apprenticeship programs.

Blinn electrical apprenticeship courses – held weekly at the Blinn Workforce Education Training Center in College Station – teach students the theories behind the hands-on work they do on the job, including electrical theory, blueprint reading, mathematics, electrical code requirements, and safety and first aid practices.

“As an apprentice in an electrical apprenticeship program, individuals are able to work full-time while also receiving instruction in the classroom,” said Gayla Briles, Blinn’s Manager of Corporate Projects. “Not only do they undergo hands-on training in the field, they come together to learn an established curriculum, resulting in a more standardized system for the trade in the local area.”

An apprentice who completes the program is qualified to become a journeyman electrician licensed to work without direct supervision.

“Since 2008, Dailey Electric has benefitted from the educational services Blinn offers through the Electrical Apprenticeship Program,” said Coley Garza, Controller with the College Station-based electrical company. “Apprentices have the opportunity to gain the crucial classroom knowledge that supplements the hands-on training we provide in the field. Individuals who successfully progress through the program gain a significant edge when it is time to take the journeyman electrician licensing exam.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national demand for electricians will increase 14 percent between 2014 and 2024, creating almost 86,000 new jobs. According to data supplied by Workforce Solutions Brazos Valley, local demand for electricians is expected to be nearly identical, creating an average of 20 position openings each year with a mean hourly wage approaching $20 per hour.

Dailey Electric employee William Morace enrolled in Blinn’s Electrical Apprenticeship Program three years ago and is one course away from completion.

“Taking weekly classes with Blinn while working full-time in the field was the best option for my schedule,” Morace said. “Blinn instructors make sure we know the reasoning behind the field work that we do, while our employer demonstrates how to apply that knowledge. I would definitely recommend enrolling in the program if you are trying to pursue a career in the electrical industry.”

In addition to the training Blinn provides through the apprenticeship program, the College offers its Electrical Technician Program to job seekers looking to acquire the skills needed to become a highly competitive applicant. The nine-month program meets twice per week and includes 240 hours of classroom instruction. Students who complete the course earn a certificate and their Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-hour safety training card.

Graduates who earn their certificate through Blinn’s Electrician Program are qualified to enter the field as an apprentice.

“With all the local construction taking place, companies always need new employees to work as electricians,” said Briles. “This training definitely gives you a leg up when you apply for entry-level positions. If you already understand the math, terminology, and basic skills, that certainly is a plus for the employer.”

Upcoming electrical apprenticeship and technician courses begin in September and will run through June 2018.

Students interested in either program can visit www.blinn.edu/workforce, or contact the Division of Technical & Community Education Programs at 979-209-7205 or workforce@blinn.edu. Companies interested in establishing an apprenticeship program can contact Ken Dupre at ken.dupre@blinn.edu or 979-209-7560.