Training center to train the next generation of electricians | Local News
Greg Hojdila and Jeff Mendillo believe that skilled workers are needed more than ever in this country.
The couple hope the West Central Pennsylvania Electricians Training Center, located at 3891 Wilmington Road in Neshannock, can help train the next generation of workers.
“It all depends on the market. Right now we need a lot,” Mendillo said.
Hojdila and Mendillo serve as a training instructor and assistant training instructor for the center, respectively.
Hojdila said the center houses the five-year apprenticeship program through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 712 and the National Electrical Contractors Association.
The program, which is for residents of Lawrence, Mercer, Beaver and Crawford counties, allows students to receive real-world on-the-job training during the day and attend evening classes on two days per week at the center, tuition-free.
“We designed it to make you a construction electrician,” Hojdila said.
There are currently 143 apprentices in the program.
The center was formerly in Beaver, with construction on the new center beginning in 2019. The new center is now 22,500 square feet compared to the old center’s 4,000 square feet.
While IBEW-NECA “moved in” in 2020, due to the pandemic, Hojdila said the first batch of students didn’t enter the building until November 2021.
He said they chose to wait until October 15 to have the official groundbreaking ceremony in order to have more people attend due to fewer COVID-19 cases, and to show what the center offer once it is substantially complete.
The center has seven regular classrooms that teach the theoretical or “theoretical” part of the trade, as well as different laboratories that give more practical instruction in the classroom.
Classes are held twice a week in the evening from September to May.
Laboratories include a pipe/conduit bending lab, a residential lab which focuses on branch circuits and transformer connections in a home, an instrumentation or process control lab, which focuses on HVAC, water and sewer in a building, a fire alarm laboratory, a tele-data laboratory and an engine control laboratory.
Hojdila said they will continue to enrich the labs in the future, with Mendillo noting that the skills learned by apprentices grow and develop from year to year.
The center teaches 45-50 different specialty subjects, with learners able to earn 60 college credits through the center’s affiliation with the American Council on Education, which may increase in the future.
“All subjects simulate what you see on the field,” Mendillo said.
The center also offers work with 3D models and plans and virtual reality, which will continue to grow and evolve.
Hojdila said that in the future there will be a “welding lab” outside the main building for welding lessons, and there will be a solar panel on the ground outside the center to help. to offset energy bills.
The couple said the center not only helps people fresh out of high school or college, but also teaches new lessons to existing electricians, or “journeymen”, with apprentices ranging from young adults to those in their 50s.
Hojdila said skilled trades is a “hot spot” right now in the country, which is why the center has been moved to the more centralized Neshannock location.
Mendillo said that as the country’s needs change, so must the work of electricians.
For example, with the big push towards electric vehicles, electricians will be needed not only for automobiles, but also for charging stations. The center now offers courses on the infrastructure of electric charging vehicles.
“They speak through on-the-job experience when they talk to students,” Mendillo said.
Hojdila added, “Our whole model is about sharing knowledge with people. Locals are trained here and locals work here.
All apprentices work in the Four Counties District, earning real paychecks and benefits, helping different local projects, while the center helps businesses in the district get their materials and components.
The West Central Pennsylvania Electricians Apprenticeship and Training Joint Committee received a Lawrence County Impact Award in September.
For more information, like how to apply, visit wcpaejatc.org or call (724) 775-6920.