S&C has joined with Commonwealth Edison and the City Colleges of Chicago to launch a pioneering new program to fill a key “workforce gap” in our industry--training a new generation of line workers. As large numbers of power industry veterans retire over the next several years, a critical shortage of these workers is predicted across North America.

The new “Overhead Electrical Line Worker Program” helps answer this challenge. Begun in October 2006, the program is centered at the Dawson Technical Institute—the Institute is part of the Chicago city college system’s Kennedy-King College.

The new program is a comprehensive, ten-month training effort that includes courses on basic electricity and electrical safety, along with extensive hands-on work with a wide array of equipment.

The official public announcement took place December 19 of last year and was attended by dignitaries including Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, ComEd President and CEO Frank M. Clark, and Wayne D. Watson, Chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago. S&C was represented by Vice President—Facilities John Blumenshine and Territory Manager Randy Gucwa.

In his remarks, Mayor Daley commented that, when the power goes out, “there is no more important person on earth” than the electrical line worker. The mayor also emphasized the city’s commitment to work with businesses to provide specific training that fills crucial skills gaps among Chicago employers, a key strategy for keeping and expanding good-paying jobs in the city.

Because the program places such a strong emphasis on hands-on training, participants need to work with real-world equipment. Toward that end, S&C has contributed 15-kV fuse cutouts, Loadbuster Disconnects, Positrol Fuse Links, and a unit of PMH-9 pad-mounted gear, with other company products—including a TripSaver Dropout Recloser—to be provided later.

ComEd’s partnership with the City Colleges of Chicago to create opportunities for local residents clearly sets a great example for Chicago-area businesses. S&C President and CEO John Estey noted that “S&C—with its longstanding relationship with ComEd and dedication to the community—is proud to contribute to this innovative training program.”