By Anna Guy

Before the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers—IBEW—was formed in 1891, one out four electrical workers lost their lives doing their jobs. The marvel of electricity was new, and it was hard to keep up with the demand for electrical workers as more and more people sought to bring electricity into their homes. The industry was in its infancy, as were its safety standards; electrical workers didn’t have much in the way of safety equipment or procedures, let alone proper training.

The Canadian arm of the IBEW was formed shortly after in 1899. For 120 years, the IBEW has committed to the safety and skill level of its members, which now reaches 70,000 members across the country. The largest union of electrical workers in the world, the IBEW has expanded its scope, representing members in fields a varying as utilities, manufacturing, construction, telecommunications, cable, radio and television, shipyards, railroads, sound and alarm, pulp and paper mills, mining, and government, to name a few.

IBEW members impact the lives of all Canadians. It’s hard to imagine a place that hasn’t benefitted from the work of IBEW’s men and women. From hospitals, sports arenas, schools, subway stops, and malls, IBEW members are the backbone of Canadian infrastructure and community.

IBEW continues its commitment to its members with world-class apprenticeships and training programs. In August, the IBEW, along with the National Electrical Trade Council (NETCO). and the Canadian Electrical Contractors Association (CECA) announced the recipient of its annual Leadership Excellence Award as Chris Taran, Director of Apprenticeship and Training at IBEW Local 2085 in Manitoba.

In the electrical industry for 24 years, 15 years as an educator, Taran became the Director of Apprenticeship and Training IBEW Local 2085 in 2012. As a leader in the apprenticeship field he is responsible for curriculum, training delivery, staff and organizational partnerships, overseeing 600 apprentices in the province.

Taran enjoys presenting opportunities to young men and women in his programs, and also the role they can play within it. “This industry can have very high paying jobs, and I want them to understand this,” he says. “I think that it’s very important for young people to become politically active because it’s taking me a long time to realize how politics is actually affected my job.”

As for his recognition, Taran says it is a “very, very big accomplishment,” and that he wasn’t made award of the award until it was announced onstage at NETCO’s 2019 training conference in Vancouver.

NETCO Treasurer & CECA President David Mason says, “Mr. Taran, is a leader in innovation and leadership to electrical apprenticeship. He is a champion of Red Seal Occupational Standards, apprenticeship and continuing electrical training. He is passionate about promoting the choice of a Skilled Trades in the construction industry. He has volunteered numerous hours to Skills Canada and often speaks at high schools and career symposiums.”

Mason also highlighted Tazan’s role in developing the Virtual Reality Construction Orientation Program for New Construction Workers, where he manages pre-employment classes, two high school programs and many classes for safety-training, high voltage, electrical code, pyrotechnics, tutoring, and many more.

“I’m very honored to be chosen. IBEW has so many talented people in their organization that to be highlighted like that lets me know when doing the right thing,” says Tazan. “The biggest strength of our program is listening to industry and putting the focus on practical training.”