The Apprenticeship Curriculum
Director at the electrical training ALLIANCE (etA)
In Part 2 of our series Marty discusses the etA apprenticeship curriculum and the role of their Training Partners. Want to learn more about how etA is working to bridge the apprentice gap and show the next generation the value of a career in the electrical industry? Read Part 1 of our interview here.
THE APPRENTICESHIP CURRICULUM
Lutron: I’m interested in what an apprenticeship looks like. Can you walk us through the curriculum?
Marty Riesberg (MR): Absolutely. In 2008, etA developed a ‘core curriculum” model similar to secondary and higher-ed programs. Apprentices have to earn 130 total credits, with 90 credits dedicated to core electrical subjects and skills. Nearly half of that core material is focused on code - designing and installing to meet code compliance.
The remaining 40 credits come from a list of advanced courses, similar to college electives. We rely heavily on experts in the field, and we listen carefully to the pros to understand where the industry is going and what topics we need to cover. When we develop new elective courses, it’s usually a direct result of input from customers and associates.
Maybe I should back up for a minute, and mention that construction firms are often family businesses. As younger generations join the trade, they are wired to learn differently. They’re digital natives who lean into tech. Our curriculum is constantly evolving to incorporate new techniques, new products, and technologies like smart controls, VR platforms, BIM objects, and wireless protocols.
Lutron: Is the training regionalized in ways other than code compliance?
MR: Yes. Regional, and state codes do play a big part in training, and then local training programs determine what advanced topics are most relevant to the students in their region. We develop the curriculum, and centers can offer courses such as photovoltaics, instrumentation, and building automation – courses that apply to certain areas or electrical specialties.
THE ROLE OF THE MANUFACTURER
Lutron: We recognize that importance of the training etA provides, and we’re so proud to be a Platinum-level training partner. Can you talk about the relationship between etA and its Training Partners?
MR: It’s impossible to overstate that relationship. etA relies on its Training Partners to help develop new curriculum, and to provide training tools, videos, information and even authorship where needed. All our program instructors came from the field; the key word there being “came”. For example, I am a journeyman wireman but the last time I was directly involved with installing projects was 2001. Our Training Partners are a key source for new information and product expertise.
For lighting control best practices, for example, our curriculum development teams lean heavily on companies like Lutron for intel on wireless protocols, platform integrations, and other emerging technologies. This is why Training Partners are so important— they are the experts on how their own products get designed into and installed on a job.
Lutron: What else to you need from your Training Partners?
MR: We get tremendous support. One of the things a Training Partner can do for us is to provide the marketing tools, training videos and training exercises they provide to their own people, and then give etA the freedom to emphasize technical messaging over marketing language.
Our apprentices need tools that tools that dig into the fine details of installation and setup on a project. It’s a joint effort, and our best bet for keeping the industry moving forward. I’m proud to be part of etA, excited to help provide essential jobs and meet the needs of our customers.
Marty Riesberg, Director at the electrical training ALLIANCE (etA), is the liaison for etA’s Training Partner, Preparing for Leadership, and Construct Your Future programs. In addition to being a graduate of the NJATC National Training Institute, Marty Riesberg was a journey level wireman, a level 1 installer, and a JATC instructor for 7 years before focusing his efforts on curriculum development and Training Partner relationships.