Seventy-one students at the IBEW Local 175/National Electrical Contractors Association Joint Apprenticeship and Training Center finished their apprenticeships and officially graduated.
Every single one of them has a job with an electrical contractor.
The 66-year-old center, launched as a school in 1948, continues its record of training the professional electrical workers needed in Chattanooga’s growing economy.
“We are very proud to have graduated the largest class in the history of the school," said Kenny Smith, director of the JATC for the past 13 years. "We just started our next class of 103 and 95 are currently working in electrical trades.”
JATC students come in all shapes, sizes, ages and genders. Ondel Meeks, part of the latest graduating class, is now in his 50s. He spent 20 years as a police officer with the Soddy-Daisy Police Department. On a friend’s recommendation, he applied to the program, and after waiting 18 months because of its applicant waiting list, began the five-year program.
“If I had known about this program, I would have entered right out of high school,” said Mr. Meeks. “My pay after two years as an apprentice surpassed what I was making with 20 years as a police officer.” Mr. Meeks said the program is a well-rounded electrical education, giving him the skills to do quality work. “Because of this training and my IBEW membership, I know I can go anywhere in the country and get a job,” he said.
At the end of April, the JATC broke ground on its new 3,500 square-foot multi-lab building. This will be used to help accommodate the growing number of apprentices, keeping them up-to-date with the technological advances in the changing electrical field.
Barry Key, IBEW Local 175 business manager, said, “We are proud to partner with the local chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association to provide this nationally recognized education. We are also proud to take the lead in ensuring quality training and a highly skilled and reliable workforce."
For more information about JATC instructors, visit: www.chattanoogaelectricaljatc.org/www/docs/106/electrical-apprentice-instructor-chattanooga
For more information about qualifications for applying to the JATC, visit: www.chattanoogaelectricaljatc.org/www/docs/100/apprenticeship-qualifications/