Recently, the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives began offering a four-year linemen apprenticeship training program. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)-certified program includes 7,000 hours of online and hands-on training, study and tests.
“We saw a need for this type of program for electric cooperatives in Iowa, and worked to implement this rigorous training effort,” says John Dvorak, director of safety and loss control for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives. “Working on power lines is an unforgiving business and specialized training is needed. Today, almost every state has an apprenticeship training program.”
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job training with classroom instruction to prepare workers for highly skilled careers. Workers benefit from apprenticeships by receiving a skills-based education that prepares them for good-paying jobs. Apprenticeship training programs help electric cooperatives recruit and retain this critical workforce.
The electric cooperative linemen apprenticeship training is available to interested cooperative employees, and the class size isn’t limited. Each individual cooperative pays the annual tuition for the program, and the employee must be supervised by a journeyman lineman or someone with the equivalent training. Currently, 50 Iowa linemen are going through the program.
“Once an individual graduates from the program, they are qualified to work anywhere in the world as a certified journeyman lineman,” Dvorak explains. “However, the ultimate benefit is for the employee and his or her family. Our goal is to train them at the highest level, so they can work as safely and efficiently as possible. Making sure they can go home safe and sound each night is what’s important.”