I look forward to each fall and my travels to the Section Meetings. For the benefit of those who have never attended, or for those not familiar with our Section Meetings, I can tell you from personal experience that you have missed out on a great experience. Education is a primary focus of these meetings, but all of them offer ample time for networking, renewing friendships, and making new friends.
For me, one of the greatest benefits of these meetings is the gathering of our community. Electrical inspectors, electricians, electrical contractors, certification agency representatives, manufacturers and other interested individuals together share their common interests. It is exciting to hear the discussions and debates over safety standards, and to hear and have access to industry experts who are directly involved in the development of both the National Electrical and Canadian Electrical Codes.
In the recent Southwestern Section meeting, Section President Rhonda Parkhurst shared a personal story as a member of IAEI related to the challenges that she and many other inspectors are experiencing. Not unique to her jurisdiction only, but a nationwide trend is the lack of support from employers for inspectors to attend training workshops and conferences. In addition, she talked about a paradigm between having time and resources to perform quality inspections vs. meeting customer and contractor expectations. In her speech, she stated, “There is a trend of building departments being more accommodating and friendly to contractors, in itself not a bad concept, but it too often comes at the cost of thorough and complete inspections, and ultimately, the price is reduced safety.”
Are you having similar experiences in your jurisdiction? If so, it becomes even more important to be knowledgeable and updated on current standards and codes. Would you still attend an IAEI meeting if you were not compensated on some level? Do not fall behind the educational learning curve! Even if you do not have the financial support from your employer, do not let your skills fall behind. Keeping current and ahead of the curve will pay future dividends.
Mark Hilbert, your International President, spoke on a similar topic and the importance of training and of keeping current. He also referred to his involvement with IAEI as being a family.
As I listened to both Rhonda’s and Mark’s speeches and afterwards observed what transpired during the educational sessions and during the social events, it became clear that IAEI is more than just a group of members; in fact, we are a family, a community that cares about each other, a community that speaks with one voice when it involves electrical safety.
Learning and networking can be achieved in a number of ways. In recent years, IAEI has worked hard to create positive experiences through on-line training and the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I am pleased with IAEI’s progress in these efforts. Having said this, I do not want us to lose sight of the benefits gained when we gather as a community. IAEI Section, Chapter, and Division meetings reinforce our strength as a community and provide an excellent gathering venue for networking and learning from each other.
David Clements is CEO/Executive Director of IAEI
Follow Dave on Twitter@DavidEClements