MOLINE, Illinois -- The skilled trades are increasingly viewed as an alternative to college for high school graduates looking to start a career. But that doesn't mean electrical apprentices don't have to hit the books.
Evening lectures and labs are held at the Quad City Electrical Training Center for NECA/IBEW local 145 apprentices. There's also plenty of hands-on education; second-year apprentices could be seen setting up three-way switches in a Wednesday evening lab.
"The second-year guys, they've got about a year's worth of on-the-job training under their belt," said Ray Dobbles, an instructor at the training center. "They're getting a little more familiar with their hand tools, and we're just kind of building on that.
Twenty-one-year-old Jacob Wright teamed up with a friend from high school on the three-way switch exercise. He said becoming an electrical worker would provide everything he could want out of a career.
"It has good pay, good benefits, it is a brotherhood," said Wright. "You know, everybody wants to be friends with each other," he said.
The union bought the training facility about 20 years ago, but it is so clean and well-kept it actually looks newer.
"All of us members are basically owners of the building, so we all take a lot of pride in making sure that our building stays in good shape," said Dobbles.