BATON ROUGE – The second group of participants in a line-worker training program – a collaboration between Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC), Entergy, two community colleges and more than a dozen other electric utilities and utility contractor companies – began training in August.
Sixteen students enrolled in the Certified Line Worker Training Program at New Orleans-based Delgado Community College and began their training exercises today. Likewise, 15 students at Fletcher Community College in Schriever also recently started their coursework.
LWC Secretary Ava Dejoie said the line-worker program embodies the agency’s ideals and ultimate mission.
“Utility workers are critical to every aspect of life, safety, and commerce,” Dejoie said. “The line-worker program not only delivers employees that are vital during emergencies, but also provides financial assistance and specialized training for participants, enabling them to take home significant paychecks within a reasonably short period of training time. These types of all-encompassing initiatives represent workforce development at its finest, which is why the LWC is extremely proud to be affiliated with this endeavor.”
Melonie Stewart, vice president of distribution operations for Entergy Louisiana, touts the program as the product of strategized collaboration.
“Our partnership with the Louisiana Workforce Commission to create a certified line-worker training program is a great example of how Entergy Louisiana works closely with organizations to help create tomorrow’s diverse workforce,” Stewart said. “This program lays the foundation for a future in the utility industry by allowing students to have hands-on experience to help prepare them for the next steps in their careers.”
A total of 23 students completed the first part of the program – 14 at Delgado and nine at Fletcher. All Fletcher program graduates have found employment, and nine graduates of the Delgado program – which ended on July 11 – have already received job offers. Participants in Fletcher’s second session are slated to graduate in October, and Delgado’s will graduate in February.
Seven of Fletcher’s first group of participants have landed full-time jobs with Entergy and two participants earned spots with Volt Power-City of Houma with pay ranging from $40,000 to $44,000 base pay with benefits and possible overtime. Some Delgado program graduates have gone to work for Entergy, while others landed positions with Chain Electric and Willbros. Starting base pay ranged from approximately $34,000 to $49,000. Ultimately, graduates have the potential to earn $57,000 within one year and as much as $85,000 in a supervisory capacity after eight years.
Brad Barrios, one of the first group of graduates from Fletcher’s program, landed a job with Entergy based in Gretna. Barrios said the program was challenging but worth the effort.
“As each day went by, we went a little higher, a little higher, and before you knew it, we were at the top of a 40-foot pole, placing equipment,” he said. “At the beginning, the program was a lot to take in, but I’m glad I did it.”
Barrios and others who completed the program received numerous credentials, including Certified Line Worker, National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Core, Power Line and Power Line Worker Level 1 with modules from 2 and 3; Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10; cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPA) First Aid Basic Plus; and more than 600 hours of curriculum and exercises. Some students have received Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL) Training as well.
Representatives from both colleges acknowledge employer partnerships as a significant contributing factor to the program’s success. Industry partners included not only Entergy, but also Demco, Cleco, Chain Electric Company, PSC Primoris, Diversified Services, Linetec Services, Lafayette Utilities System, Terrebonne Parish, SLECA, Utility Lines Construction Services Inc, Willbros, T&D Services, T&D Solutions and Southern Electric Corp.
“This program was truly a labor of love,” said Lauren N. King, director of community and economic development at Delgado. “It was successful because of the support we received from our employer partners, funders and the implementation team. Additionally, we could not have asked for a more committed group of students to be out first training cohort.”
Crystal Chiasson, Workforce Development Coordinator at Fletcher, said, “It has been a tremendous success and a pleasure to work with everyone. The funding made possible by the Louisiana Workforce Commission has been such a blessing to so many participants, giving them an opportunity to change their lives and providing needed skilled workers to the energy industry.”
Fletcher Chancellor Kristine Strickland, PhD., also recognized collaboration as a crucial component of the program.
“Fletcher Technical Community College is proud to partner with our statewide energy providers in creating the future workforce for the industry,” Strickland said. “This program has been a shining example of the power of partnership in moving our state forward. From the beginning, the collaboration of business and industry, higher education and professional associations has provided a strong foundation upon which this program was built and is being delivered. The program clearly demonstrates that when teams come together to seek solutions to our challenges, the end result can be an exceptional solution that uplifts entire communities and our state.”
About the Louisiana Workforce Commission
The Louisiana Workforce Commission is an agency of state government that administers programs designed to enhance workforce growth and provide family-sustaining jobs for Louisiana residents. The commission monitors employment, administers unemployment compensation and tax funds, provides training resources for employers and employees and oversees worker compensation benefits. The agency also gathers and supplies information on the labor market and occupational sectors in Louisiana.
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