Utility jobs in demand; workers train


Even in 90 degree temperatures,  students at the Warren County Career Center are powering through the conditions for the sake of a future career providing power for others.
"I'm more of a hands on learner, and with someone showing me how to do it and I'm actually doing it, it's a lot easier than sitting there and saying, read a book," said student Brian Phillips.
"It's great, they teach you everything you need to know pretty much," said Jeffrey Reynolds, another student.
The 10 month Electrical Power Line Mechanic Program center is expanding this fall as a result of the rush to replace an estimated one third of current power line workers approaching retirement. According to Carnegie Mellon University's Electricity Industry Center, about half the USA's 400,000 power industry workers, largely baby boomers, are eligible to retire in the next five to 10 years.
"We re-train them for a new occupation, a new start in life," said Ben Brigham, of the Warren County Career Center.
 "We're looking for opportunities to expand because of the demand for these workers, we're trying to increase our capacity to 90 to 100 new technicians produced per year," Brigham said.
Students spend most of their time on the pole yard, learning everything from climbing a pole in record time to operating bucket and digger trucks.
"Not a lot of people take advantage of this opportunity and try this career field so it's really in high demand," said Michael Hamilton, a student.
"Everybody needs power, everybody needs their lights on, so it's always going to be here, so I figured it would be a good career option," Reynolds said.
 Graduates of the program leave with their CDL certification and typically have a job waiting for them; With the demand for power expected to increase 50 percent by 2030, students say the power profession is a stable career path in an unstable economy.
"Just a chance to provide for my family and take care of my responsibilities and be a different person than I was," Hamilton said.
For more information on the Electrical Power Line Mechanic Program at the Warren County Career center contact: ben.brigham@mywccc.org
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