February 23, 2023
Future employment opportunities for women in the unionized electrical industry in our region are extremely rosy.
Or, more to the point, “Rosie.”
Rosie the Riveter - the iconic World War II image and jobs program that successfully recruited women to perform factory jobs normally filled by men (who weren’t available due to military service) is making a major comeback.
IBEW Local 98, through its acclaimed Apprentice Training for the Electrical Industry (ATEI) Program, recently received a PAsmart Grant to fund its Rosie’s Girls female apprentice recruitment program, which is being offered tuition-free to all accepted pre-apprenticeship trainees. Rosie’s Girls is sponsored by ATEI, which provides the instructors, training, tools and equipment for each pre-apprentice. The PAsmart Grant includes funding for job fairs and career days in which students can learn about employment opportunities and career pathways in the construction industry.
Leading this noteworthy new recruitment effort are two amazing women - Elaine Mcquire for IBEW Local 98 and Teila Allmond for ATEI 98. Both women previously worked in the field as experienced Journeywomen Union Electricians. They were appointed to these new leadership positions by IBEW Local 98 Business Manager Mark Lynch, Jr.
The instructors at ATEI 98, under the direction of Brian Myers, have had a strong, long-standing commitment to adding women to the program and have been hugely supportive of greater participation by women in Local 98. While there have been some Local 98 female recruitment programs in the past that have had some success, ATEI 98 felt there was a need to reach females at a younger age to introduce them to the field and provide them with the technical and emotional support needed to enter the industry. Both Local 98 and ATEI wanted to demonstrate to young women that they can pursue and succeed in a rewarding career in the traditionally male-dominated electrical industry.
As a sponsor of the ATEI program, IBEW Local 98 has more than 300 signatory contractors that hire Its apprentices every year. A Registered Apprenticeship provides a career pathway to skilled jobs that combines on-the-job learning with related, hands-on classroom instruction. ATEI is an “earn and learn” model that provides workers with income while they learn on the job. When individuals successfully complete a Registered Apprenticeship program, they receive a national credential that is recognized anywhere in the electrical industry.
Rosie’s Girls familiarizes young high school-aged women in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties with safety instruction; tools and materials; theoretical basics of electrical and telecommunications installation; and jobsite conditions. Through training and mentorship, students entering their 11th and 12th grade years of high school will begin to develop the technical skills needed to pursue a career in the electrical industry. Introducing students to these topics and receiving industry recognized credentials at an earlier age provides them with the confidence that they can pursue this non-traditional career. Rosie’s Girls is designed to demonstrate to young women that - despite its male-dominated past - the electrical industry can offer women a rewarding career with family-sustaining wages.
Other training topics include wiring devices, conduit fabrication, sound and telecommunications, blueprints, tools and materials, and electrical careers and systems. Students also are trained in life and interview skills, while receiving instruction on the math and reading questions included in ATEI’s aptitude test. This 63-hour program affords students recognized certifications in OSHA 10 and First Aid/CPR that will increase their success rate of gaining job opportunities in the unionized electrical industry.
As society continues to move into an era of clean energy and scientific innovation, the need for construction workers is more critical than ever before. Currently, the rate of recruitment of young talent lags behind the retirement rate of union construction professionals. Rosie’s Girls is the key to inspiring the next generation and increasing female representation in the construction industry. Women stepped up to the plate during World War II and are more than ready and capable of stepping up now. Elaine Mcguire and Teila Allmond are living proof.
“I met Philadelphia poet Sonia Sanchez when I was just 16-years old,” recalls Mcquire. “She told me ‘If you put your mindset to it, you can do it.’ She was absolutely right and her words stay with me to this day.”
Sounding a similar note, Teila Allmond added, “Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”
Just ask Rosie the Riveter.
For more information, visit atei98.org.