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Upgraded training center for electricians in Boston "like Harvard University," says union

Upgraded training center for electricians in Boston "like Harvard University," says union
Upgraded training center for electricians in Boston "like Harvard University," says union 02:00

BOSTON - With the increased interest in clean energy, there are nearly 2,000 electrical apprentices now training in Massachusetts to fill jobs. 

"We're training folks to install solar, we're training folks to install EV chargers and how to work on wind turbines," IBEW 103 business manager Lou Antonellis told WBZ-TV.

In Dorchester, $10 million just went into renovations at the union's Joint Apprentice Training Center. The upgraded facility is designed to train future union electricians with state-of-the-art technology.

"We're training apprentices to make sure that we fill the need that's coming. Everyone that buys an electric car has to have an electric charging station whether it's their home or place or business or grocery store. Part of this investment into this training center is stepping up our game when it comes to clean and green energy infrastructure," Antonellis said.

"If you come straight from high school or you're an adult that comes in here at age 30, 40, 50, it's a life changing experience," JATC assistant training director Jay DeMello told WBZ.

"It's more meaningful to me to be an apprentice because I get to start from the bottom, work my way up," apprentice Kristie Welch said. She was bouncing between jobs during the pandemic when she saw that IBEW 103 was hiring at the training center and signed up.

Apprentices earn while they learn in the 5-year program and train in various electrical areas.

"We're seeing everybody, a big influx of people and the demand to put EV charges in, so we want to meet that demand by training apprentices to become qualified electricians to do that work," Antonellis said.

The facility has now tripled the hands-on training spaces. 

"This building for electricians is like Harvard University. It's like the cream of the crop," Antonellis told WBZ.

The teachers at the training center are electricians working in the field, who give back their time to teach apprentices. 

"The teachers are great. They take their time to make sure that everybody understands what's going on and then in class too, the students help each other. You get to learn so much, you get to work with so many people. Everybody has been extremely nice and so willing to teach," Welch explained.

Everyone who graduates from the center and passes the exam gets a state license to start working. "Being an apprentice is like starting over anew," Welch said.

"As they progress through the program, they learn skills they can use for the rest of their life," DeMello said.

The ultimate hope with the renovations and enhanced apprenticeship application process is to reduce barriers for people to become apprentices and increase electrical industry excellence. 

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