Happy National Apprenticeship Week! It’s our annual opportunity to celebrate apprentices and highlight the importance of apprenticeship programs.
Celebrating and supporting apprentices isn’t new at ElectriCities. Through our career development programs, hundreds of apprentice lineworkers, meter technicians, and substation technicians throughout ElectriCities member communities have gained and are gaining the skills and expertise needed to work safely and advance their careers by achieving journeyworker certification.
Craig Batchelor, Manager of Safety and Training at ElectriCities, says, “My hope is that every apprentice lineworker, meter technician, and substation technician who gets hired in any of our member communities enters one of our career development programs for apprentices. Along with providing top-of-the-line training, these programs teach safety first.”
ElectriCities’ development programs for apprentices include:
Apprentice Lineworker Program – In this four-level program, lineworker apprentices complete 72 online modules, eight in-person ElectriCities safety schools, and hands-on tests at the end of each school to gain comprehensive knowledge about installing, repairing, and maintaining overhead and underground electric systems. Participants gain an understanding of electricity and, in the more advanced levels, gain supervisory experience and knowledge of complex electric operations.
Overhead Lineworker Career Development Program – In this four-level program, lineworker apprentices complete approximately 60 online modules and four in-person ElectriCities safety schools to learn to install, repair, and maintain overhead electric systems. They gain an understanding of electricity and, in the more advanced levels, gain supervisory experience and knowledge of complex electric operations.
Meter Technician Career Development Program – This three-level program enables meter technicians at all experience levels to learn to test, install, repair, and maintain customer watt-hour meters. Participants learn about AMI technology and, in the more advanced levels, gain knowledge of complex polyphase metering.
Substation Career Development Program – In this four-level program, substation technicians learn the skills needed to handle technical substation responsibilities, including how to install, repair, and maintain all components of an electric substation. They gain an understanding of electricity and, in the more advanced levels, gain supervisory experience and knowledge of complex devices and switching orders located in substations and throughout the electric systems.
All programs require on-the-job training that supervisors must sign off on.
The newest and most comprehensive of the four training programs is the Apprentice Lineworker Program.
“We created the Apprentice Lineworker Program to provide members an option for more robust apprentice lineworker training,” Batchelor said. “Along with more online and in-person training, plus hands-on tests along the way, the program simplifies the process for member communities since ElectriCities handles the state registration process.”
Since the program opened to ElectriCities member communities in 2019, about half of them have moved from the Overhead Lineworker Career Development Program to the Apprentice Lineworker Program.
In May 2022, City of Lexington lineworker Brent Pope became one of the first graduates of the ElectriCities Apprentice Lineworker Program. He’d been working his way through the overhead program when Lexington Utilities transitioned to the Apprentice Lineworker Program.
After initially being apprehensive about the switch since it meant retaking some classes, Pope said he’s glad he stuck with it.
“It’s definitely about education and trying to make yourself better,” he said. “It might be a few more modules and a few more steps, but it’s worth it in the long run.”
He added, “The thing I enjoyed most was getting the different experiences, different skillsets, and different mindsets, not only from the instructors but from other students in the class.”
That’s by design, says ElectriCities Senior Safety and Training Specialist Jeff Freeman. “We try to make the schools so they’re compatible with every student across our member communities, covering all the skills that pertain to the smallest and largest utilities.”
Pope says the program is beneficial now, and he knows it will be in the future. It provides opportunities for people who may want to get into linework but are leery if they lack experience, he said.
ElectriCities’ Batchelor agrees. “That applies to all ElectriCities apprentice programs,” he said. “During National Apprenticeship Week, we thank our participating member communities and apprentices for helping us create a culture of safety through training.”
To learn more about ElectriCities’ career development programs, contact Craig Batchelor, ElectriCities Manager of Safety and Training, or your ElectriCities safety and training specialist.