Worried they may be turning out too many electricians, leaders of Minnesota's technical college system have ordered their schools to cap enrollments for electrician training - one of the system's most popular skilled trades.Ordered? Really. What would prompt such an order? Who has that kind of authority?
Officials with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system say it's the first time MnSCU has capped a degree program. The decision came after talks with an electricians union, which argued the system is training too many electricians for the market, worsening unemployment.Oh, so Big Labor now gets to decide what Big Education offers to willing applicants and what it doesn't? It's almost life one huge labor union scratching the back of another huge labor union.
"We thought our numbers were OK," said Manuel Lopez, MnSCU associate vice chancellor for continuous improvement. "There is a possibility that we have been oversupplying the market." MnSCU, he added, plans to study degree offerings in all trades "to see if supply and demand are in sync."Yea, Manuel; you wouldn't want to look at your numbers and make an institutional decision within MnSCU. It's better to let the union tell you what to do.
MnSCU trains about 80 percent of the state's electricians in 13 technical colleges. The system still places about nine of every 10 graduates in jobs, and enrollment has fallen on its own in the past couple of years, from a peak of 493 in 2004 to 460 in 2006.So what's the problem? Oh yea, 'cuz the IBEW says there's a problem. You got a problem with that?
"It doesn't appear from the data that the supply or demand for electricians has changed over the last five years," said Oriane Casale, assistant director of the state's labor market information office. "Yes, there is a slowdown in the construction industry now, and the demand for electricians will slow, but we don't expect that to last for more than a year or so at the very most."More electricians means more competition which means better service and lower prices for consumers. However, rather than letting the marketplace decide if too many people are entering a professional field, Big Labor uses its influence to make sure its own pastures remain green.