BARTONVILLE, Ill. (WMBD) — During these challenging economic times, an electrical construction apprenticeship center in Bartonville is offering economic options for people hoping to launch a career.

Brandon Currie, training director at Peoria Area Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC), said it has never been a better time to get into the electrical construction field.

“Electrical construction is booming,” said Currie. “The nice thing about electrical construction and the need for electrical… is we really haven’t changed our reliance on it as a society or as a community. We’ve just increased our dependence upon it and expanded the scope of work, which affects all of our lives.”

The Peoria Area Electrical JATC covers 17 counties and is sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union and the National Electrical Contractor’s Association (NECA). The program began in 1942 and moved to its current building in 2013.

“It is the training branch for all facets of electrical construction, electrical technology with the IBEW and NECA scope of work… It’s a good opportunity. It’s one you got to want it to be here.,” said Currie.

IBEW Local 34 business manager Paul Flynn said workers receive the highest wages and benefits in the industry. He said the electrical construction industry has job security and it’s always something new.

“We work ourselves out of a job. We build a building, when the building is complete, we have to go to the next location,” said Flynn.

“The rewarding thing… A lot of us take pride in the fact there’s hardly a building, business, house that you can’t drive by, walk through, go shopping in, visit,” added Currie.

Flynn said apprentices get paid to learn. They earn about $300,000 during the five-year program.

“All the training, schooling is provided through our working dues, but they pay for their books,” he said.

Currie said the program has a “heavy focus on safety.”

“Its about training them on what’s relevant yesterday, today and tomorrow, while also allowing them to be able to go home the same way,” he said.

Currie said the training center is a vital asset to Bartonville and surrounding communities.

“The parallel path to the typical education route that we offer is definitely appealing to a lot of individuals in our area. We come from an area that is very blue-collar and always has been, for a number of years,” he said.

The next training program starts in the fall.