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Growing market for electricians spurs new training center in Henrietta

A group of apprentice electricians at work on a handful of electrical boards and other stations at the new facility on Winton Place in Henrietta.
Provided photo
A new training center for apprentice electricians on Winton Place in Henrietta is opening, replacing a smaller facility that was near the Monroe Community College Brighton campus. The largest first-year class on record will start in October 2023. The training and apprentice center is a collaboration between IBEW Local 96 and the Rochester chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Continued growth in the construction trades is what’s behind a new training center for aspiring electricians in Henrietta.

The Winton Place center will welcome 52 first-year apprentices next month — the largest first-year class on record.

“We always said we're the best-kept secret ... and now the secret is getting out which is a very good thing,” said training director Clay Beeman. “It should never should have been a secret. And I'm glad that the words getting out there that there are all these opportunities.”

Clay Beeman, training director, Rochester Joint Apprentice and Training Center for the Electrical Industry
Provided photo
Clay Beeman, training director, Rochester Joint Apprentice and Training Center for the Electrical Industry

The training center is a joint venture between IBEW Local 86 and the Rochester chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association and replaces a smaller facility near the Monroe Community College campus.

A ceremonial ribbon-cutting scheduled for Friday morning is expected to draw a host of dignitaries and elected officials.

State labor projections show electricians having one of the most favorable outlooks for job growth among the construction trades. The field is projected to see 27% growth, adding 10,700 jobs statewide this decade. Those numbers are slightly lower in the Finger Lakes region, coming in at 23% which is just below estimates for the overall workforce.

Locally, Beeman points to developments like the LiCycle battery recycling center at Eastman Business Park in Greece and solar fields like the massive Horseshoe project expected to get underway next year in Rush and Caledonia. Even the Micron plant to be built in Syracuse is certain to draw workers from Rochester.

But it doesn’t end there.

“Manufacturing is becoming more and more automated,” Beeman said. “And that specifically helps us as electricians. It gives us more work, more manhours on the job. You know, when I started out, there wasn't a ton of that ... we were taking down a lot of things at Kodak Park. And now Kodak Park is starting to come back up again.”

A first-year apprentice earns nearly $20 an hour plus benefits. After the five-year training period, the journeyman rate tops $39 an hour — with the potential for retirement at 55 with a pension and an annuity in their name.

“So if you get in at 18 years old, at 23 years old you're making an awfully nice living,” Beeman said, “and contributing to retirement. And you have health care taken care of. But it’s like we say: It’s a nice living, but it’s not an easy living.”

Entry-level electricians in the Finger Lakes region earn $44,400 on average, according to the state labor department, while experienced electricians draw $83,300.

Brian Sharp is WXXI's business and development reporter. He has been covering Rochester since 2005, working most of that time as an investigative reporter with the Democrat and Chronicle. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.