CSM to be­gin line­man pro­gram in re­gion with SMECO’s co­op­er­a­tion

NAACP ap­plauds ef­forts to pro­vide ap­pli­cants with trade-re­lated skills

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

A new pro­gram at the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land is help­ing stu­dents who may be in­ter­ested in ap­pren­tic­ing to be­come a line­man or go into other trades.

This se­mes­ter, the Cen­ter for Trades and En­ergy Tech­nol­ogy at CSM’s Hugh­esville cam­pus, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with South­ern Mary­land Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive (SMECO), is of­fer­ing a 12-week Pre-Ap­pren­tice­ship Cer­tifi­cate, Prac­ti­cal Elec­tri­cal Util­ity Worker Train­ing pro­gram.

“For a three-month train­ing pro­gram and some train­ing, they’ll have an op­por­tu­nity to get picked up for an ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gram or go to work for the elec­tric com­pany,” said Daniel Mosser, CSM’s vice pres­i­dent of con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion and work­force de­vel­op­ment.

The pro­gram pro­vides

CPR and first aid train­ing, con­struc­tion safety and math­e­mat­ics, rig­ging and other ba­sic train­ing needed to en­ter an ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gram, Mosser said.

“It gives peo­ple in­ter­ested in pur­su­ing it, all the ba­sic skills needed to en­ter an ap­pren­tice­ship,” Mosser said.

Grad­u­ates of the pro­gram re­ceive a CSM Cer­tifi­cate of Com­ple­tion– Pre Ap­pren­tice­ship and pref­er­en­tial hir­ing with SMECO.

“We’re think­ing this pro­gram will pro­vide a rich pool of can­di­dates with ba­sic skills train­ing,” Mosser said. “They’ll get a bet­ter ap­pli­cant, and we’ll be able to pro­vide more op­por­tu­ni­ties to our com­pleters.”

Pro­gram com­pleters will also qual­ify for flag­ger cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, Mosser said.

Cur­rent classes will be capped at around 18-20 stu­dents, but Mosser said that if there is in­ter­est, ad­di­tional sec­tions can be added.

Mosser said SMECO line­man po­si­tions pay ap­prox­i­mately $70,000 to $80,000 per year with ben­e­fits.

Jan­ice Wil­son, pres­i­dent of the Charles County chap­ter of the NAACP, said she is ex­cited about the new pro­gram.

“I am so ex­cited about this pro­gram,” Wil­son said. “I want young peo­ple to know about this. I think this is an in­no­va­tive and won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity for young peo­ple to see if this is some­thing they want to do.”

Wil­son said the pro­gram was an in­no­va­tive way to pro­vide more ca­reer op­tions to young peo­ple.

“I think it is ge­nius that they’ve come up with this ap­proach,” Wil­son said.

Wil­son said she and the lead­ers of the Calvert and St. Mary’s coun­ties’ NAACP chap­ters had con­tacted SMECO Pres­i­dent Austin Slater Jr. in 2016 to dis­cuss ways to im­prove mi­nor­ity em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“This be­gan with con­ver­sa­tions we had with SMECO,” Wil­son said. “As a re­sult of those con­ver­sa­tions, Mr. Slater was very re­spon­sive, and I ap­plaud him for his ef­forts.”

Slater said in a let­ter to the NAACP that the new pro­gram is part of SMECO’s ef­forts to pro­mote work­force diver­sity. Slater said no mi­nori­ties were se­lected for the ap­pren­tice line­man pro­gram that launched in fall 2014.

“The un­for­tu­nate re­al­ity be­ing no mi­nor­ity ap­pli­cants pos­sessed the req­ui­site skills and/or ex­pe­ri­ence nec­es­sary to meet our min­i­mum qual­i­fi­ca­tions,” Slater wrote. “I de­cided we needed to ad­dress this pro­gram by de­vel­op­ing a pro­gram of train­ing for young Ap­pren­tice hope­fuls.”

Ja­son Atherton, tech­ni­cal train­ing man­ager at SMECO, said in a news re­lease that SMECO gets hun­dreds of ap­pli­cants, but few have the nec­es­sary skills re­quired to even start train­ing.

“Some have no idea how to prop­erly climb a lad­der or use a shovel,” Atherton said.

Atherton said that af­ter stu­dents com­plete 12 weeks of learn­ing core con­struc­tion skills and safety prac­tices at CSM, “... then they will go across the road to SMECO’s line­man train­ing yard for ba­sics in elec­tri­cal util­ity work, in­clud­ing pole climb­ing, which is the great lev­eler.”

Atherton will serve as the SMECO in­struc­tor for the 40-hour field practicum por­tion of the course.

In ad­di­tion, SMECO is of­fer­ing two full schol­ar­ships for the pro­gram.

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