The greatest ongoing priorities for National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) members are advocacy, networking, labor relations, education, research and standards development. These continue to be some of NECA’s most critical offerings, and the association is always looking to expand on these and modernize them as necessary to ensure it is providing the greatest value possible.
The desire to modernize has led to some additions and changes to what NECA offers as well. The association has renewed its focus on innovation and technology, working to connect its contractors with state-of-the-art products and services to keep them at the head of the pack in the electrical industry.
“We had no choice but to modernize in the past year, transitioning our usual meetings and events to virtual and hybrid formats in order to prioritize safety amid the coronavirus pandemic,” said NECA CEO David Long. “Our first-ever virtual convention and trade show—NECA 2020 LIVE—was a tremendous success, seeing more than 5,000 live users in three days last October. We will continue to utilize hybrid meetings going forward, ensuring that everybody who wishes to attend in some capacity can experience all that NECA has to offer.”
NECA members faced many challenges in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The association immediately provided resources to help keep companies abreast of regulations, best practices and training for how to maintain a safe, operational job site. “Our advocacy team on Capitol Hill worked in our contractors’ best interests, and our education team adapted to provide their top-notch material in virtual form,” Long said. “I am immensely proud of how NECA responded to the pandemic, both as a staff, and how our members have continued to find ways to operate safety. It was truly a team effort.”
NECA maintains a membership of approximately 4,000 companies across 118 local chapters. “We are very proud that our membership represents the entire range of the industry, including companies of all sizes,” Long said. “Most NECA members qualify as small businesses, but our membership also includes large, multi-area electrical contracting firms. NECA is a community of companies that sets the standard for electrical construction.”
A key part of what makes NECA such an incredible association is its networking. The association has made it a priority to provide members with opportunities to connect through recent virtual offerings. “We are creating experiences that involve more than sitting down and watching presentations at your computer,” Long said. “We want to bring the entire electrical industry together, and thus far, I am very proud of what we have accomplished.”
The virtual lobby at NECA Now 2021 in April. The association will continue to utilize hybrid meetings going forward, ensuring that everybody who wishes to attend in some capacity can experience all that NECA has to offer.
NECA CEO David Long speaks at the association’s last in-person conference in Las Vegas in 2019.
NECA maintains a membership of approximately 4,000 companies across 11 local chapters. This is the view from the organization’s new office in downtown Washington, D.C.
NECA recognizes the current labor shortage and talent gap in the trades including the electrical industry. “The talent gap continues to be a major issue across the industry,” Long said. “As older generations of electrical contractors retire, there is a need to fill that knowledge gap within companies, as well as train the next generation of workers after that. By innovating and reaching out to a new and diverse group of people, we feel we can help our industry grow.”
NECA organized a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Task Force in 2020. The task force has been charged with developing an awareness and education platform to fostera work environment within the electrical industry that supports each person’s unique differences. “This includes education, webinars, surveys and so much more to help make DE&I issues an everyday value of our industry,” Long said. “For electrical construction to grow and prosper in the future, we must remove all barriers to entry for anyone interested in what is a rich and fulfilling career.”
As an association, NECA believes its contractors need to get involved in new technologies such as networked lighting, security and the Internet of Things if they want to stay ahead of the curve in the electrical industry. “ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine, which we publish, is constantly highlighting this type of work,” Long said. “Our innovation team is tasked with working with our NECA members to train them on the latest industry tech and trends, and our education team puts together courses and webinars to introduce our contractors to products and services that can help them take that next step. As project needs change and technology evolves, NECA members are always at the forefront.”
No aspect of NECA has transformed more in the last 12 months than its educational programming. “For our entire history, we have relied on in-person education, but that had to change and change quickly,” Long said. “We have shifted to online formats for our education, with online training, on-demand education, webinars and virtual classrooms.”
All of these formats resulted in record numbers for NECA’s education offerings. Since the pivot, the association has seen more than 30,000 online training registrations. “In all of 2019, we had just 2,054 online registrations,” Long said. “It is a completely new era for NECA education, and members have been enthusiastic with their response.”
NECA’s course categories focus on project management, estimating, the National Electrical Code, communication, general business and human resources.
For more information, visit necanet.org.