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WECA AZ Outreach and Workforce Development Specialist Heath Anderson Featured in Electric Times

Thursday, May 16, 2024

WECA Arizona Outreach and Workforce Development Specialist Heath Anderson Featured in Electric Times Article on 'Attracting Women to the Trades,' along with mention of WECA Industry Partner ToolWatch

Content Courtesy of Electric Times

Alan M. Petrillo, Electric Times

Heath Anderson, Outreach and Workforce Development Specialist for the Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA), has a finely tuned antenna aimed at getting more young people into the electrical trades, and recently had an opportunity to address the Phoenix chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) on the subject of increasing the number of women getting into the construction trades.

Anderson said the invitation to speak to NAWIC was the result of a chance encounter with Samantha Miller, Construction Operations and EHS Platform Account Executive for ToolWatch. He said that ToolWatch also shares WECA's passion for encouraging more women to join the electrical trade, and to that end, Miller invited Anderson to be a guest speaker at some ToolWatch events, including an episode of ToolWatch’s Women in Innovation podcast last December, and at the NAWIC Phoenix chapter meeting this March.

“The audience were great hosts and provided great discussion,” Anderson said of the NAWIC Phoenix chapter meeting. “The members appreciated the efforts that have gone into the marketing materials aimed at helping women see the benefits of a career as an electrician.”

Anderson added that this year is the 95th anniversary of his organization.

“I told the group that WECA has a federally approved apprenticeship program, and that it maintains ambassador status at federal Department of Labor under its apprenticeship program division,” he said. “I mentioned to the group that WECA has dedicated open houses during the national Women in Construction Week, and that as an organization, we have quarterly female apprentice roundups where Arizona, Utah and California women apprentices can come together to discuss issues important in being successful in the construction industry.”

Anderson said that WECA’s outreach is designed to allow women to have a great opportunity in the electrical trade. “We have worked closely with the Fresh Start Foundation for Women, which focuses on women in general in the trades; have a federal Department of Labor grant to assist women in non-traditional occupations; and work with the nonprofit group, Arouet, that’s dedicated to helping women who have been incarcerated to get the tools they need for success in the construction field.”

He pointed out that “Many of our electrical contractor members are very second chance friendly; they have a good many folks who have had major issues in their lives, and gave them a chance to succeed in their companies. Those were good things for the NAWIC chapter to hear, and gave them ideas where they can also be helping the cause.”

Anderson said WECA also recently had good interaction in beginning to work with Girls Can Build, stated Tiffany Sharp of Sharp Construction, whose group provides knowledge and mentoring for young women considering work in the electrical field. He noted that Sharp will begin a new mentoring process in August.

“A very important thing we talked about at the NAWIC meeting is that it is of upmost importance that women are shown that where they will go to work is where there are people like themselves,” Anderson said. “Women in construction should be very visible so they can serve as role models.”

One of the barriers in the construction industry is the relationship with film, television and the media, Anderson said.

“I challenged the NAWIC Phoenix chapter to be a voice to tell the broadcasting world that there are no positive role models of construction workers in broadcasts, women or men, living a good life,” he said.

“They should be showcasing the quality of life by the people who build, and give young women and parents a lesson on how women can be successful in the construction industry as a whole.”