Client Profile: National Electrical and Communications Association

When it comes to looking after an electric Australian industry, NECA is plugged in and switched on. 

As a peak industry body, the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) plays a vital role in representing the needs and interests of electrical and communications contractors Australia wide. NECA SA/NT, the local chapter headed by 21-year veteran Larry Moore, is also kicking goals providing tailored business advice, assistance, and information to more than 500 contractors.

NECA SA has long provided support and advocacy for the electrical and engineering workforce, covering industrial relations, OH&S, government regulators and more. But as Larry points out, the NT chapter virtually existed in name only until a move from the Fair Work Commission prompted the SA team to secure a merger that has seen a resurgence in the Territory’s chapter.

“The NT chapter was dormant for many years with very few members. The Fair Work Commission gave an ultimatum, use it or lose it. SA took the lead and took the NT operation under its wing. We have long-standing links with NT; there’s a natural synergy. The new chapter is gaining momentum, lots of activities up there.”

Apart from providing members with an extraordinary range of benefits, NECA SA/NT proactively champions the progression of industries it represents at every possible turn. One such notable initiative is its Industry Roadshow, which has gathered significant kudos over the past 15 years under Larry’s stewardship. He is especially pleased with the steep trajectory of success and the influential people it reaches.

“We took over the roadshow from the industry regulator some 15 years ago. When we did, it was a little underwhelming; now we touch more than 1400 industry influencers every year. It’s the only event of its kind in our industry and is welcomed with open arms by our industry sectors.”

Where tradies take home rewards

 Speaking of huge successes, the annual NECA SA/NT Excellence Awards night took place just prior to this report going to press. A significant event on the Electrician’s social calendar, the awards promote excellence within the local electrical and communication industries across seven categories, with winners automatically entered into the national awards.

This year, top gongs ranged from Suntrix’s work in creating Australia’s largest and first community-funded, council-owned, floating solar system, to Electric Solutions’ WOW-factor innovations in cleverly practical internal, external, feature, and emergency lighting for the quirky d’Arenberg ‘Cube’.

The spark of collaboration

All great stuff and no mistake, but no events or awards will distract Larry and his team from focusing on the continued achievements across its core function: advocating on behalf of its members. As an example of NECA’s proven agility in its role, Larry points to the introduction of ‘Choice’ of electric meters. The new metering arrangements recently rolled out nationally through blanket Federal legislation, which Larry explains caused chaos and interfered horrendously on a local state-based level in South Australia.

“The Federal legislation was modelled on Eastern States markets, which are vastly different to the SA market, making it now almost impossible to efficiently coordinate meter installations in SA, because the regulations now require a multitude of different parties in the simple process of installation of meters. In an effort to combat this chaos, we brought together a collaborative forum of National and state regulators, distributors, retailers, meter providers and installers to resolve these issue which hopefully will be finalized in the near future.”

Taking the lead in training

NECA members can benefit from a wide range of training and education programs covering technical skill development in specific areas, upskilling, and management. Last year, NECA was responsible for training 4,800 apprentices and 4,000 training spots nationally.

Larry is the Chair of the national Industry Reference Committee, created by the Federal government to develop and maintain trade training packages. He’s also been Chair of the SA Electrotechnology Industry Skills Board for a decade, which has provided industry intelligence to both the state government department of VET training and industry in general. Larry offers an insight into the current state of apprenticeship growth, and what needs to change in order to enhance the feed of skilled people into electrical and communications professions.

“We also recently established a new group training organization, NECA Careers and Apprenticeships, with the express aim to develop a better flow of good tradespeople for our industries. Apprenticeship numbers are lower than previous years, due to lack of opportunities, not lack of interest. It’s simply down to the economy and lack of available work.”

“SA Industry and Skills Minister, David Pisoni, recently announced 20,000 new apprenticeships with $200m funding. Which is great but I think it may be a challenge to fill those roles, simply because employers need to have the work first or at least have financial assistance made available to those employers to employ apprentices.”

Another day, another challenge

Another big item on the whiteboard for Larry and his team is the unfair nature of contracts, and in particular the outrageous shifting of risk from builder to subcontractor, and ensuring the security of payment legislation is relevant and workable.

“In recent times NECA has joined with other industry associations to create a new association Specialist Contractors SA, who are advocating on behalf of all members across sectors to ensure reasonable terms and conditions are included across all state government contracts. NECA is approaching these issues differently by collaborating and communicating with other like organisations to achieve better outcomes collectively.”

One such organisation that NECA has partnered with for many years is DW Fox Tucker. In fact Larry’s association with DW Fox Tucker’s Ben Duggan dates back 21 years, to when Larry was head-hunted from his position as an organizer/industrial officer at the electrical trade union, crossing the aisle to join NECA. Ironically and somewhat amusingly, with Ben’s help, at NECA Larry found himself defending the very actions he had initiated on behalf of the union.

NECA’s deep association with Ben and DW Fox Tucker continues to this day. It’s a very stable and rewarding connection.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT NECA:

Phone: +61 8 8272 2966

Visit: https://neca.asn.au

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