Pearl River CC, electric companies start lineman training program

Published 11:09 pm Saturday, March 3, 2007

Pearl River Community College and electric companies announced Friday a program to allow workers to earn college credit for the training required to become a journeyman lineman.

“It’s become apparent we can’t supply the work force we’ll need in coming years,” said Gerald Arnold, safety director for Chain Electric Co. in Hattiesburg. “We’ll rely on this to supplement our internal training.”

Chain Electric does contract utility work in seven southeastern states and the partnership with PRCC will provide enhanced training for employees, owner Bobby Chain said.

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“It’s something we’ve been wanting to see for a long time. It’s something that’s seriously needed. There’s a big market for it,” Chain said.

Participants in the program also include Coast Electric Power Association, South Mississippi EPA, Pearl River EPA, Mississippi Power Co. and Entergy Mississippi.

Orientation for the first class in Hattiesburg will be May 14.

Scott Alsobrooks, director of work force education at PRCC’s Lowery A. Woodall Advanced Technology Center in Hattiesburg, said the program can serve current electric company or contractors’ employees, new employees with no training and traditional students.

Eleven Coast Electric Power Association employees are already enrolled, said Dale Miller, PRCC industrial maintenance training specialist.

“We’re at their location, training their people and awarding credit for what they learn,” Miller said.

Coast EPA safety coordinator Rodney Beech said a need for better training got the utility involved.

“It bloomed into this two-year lineman degree program,” Beech said. “They can get this associate’s degree, which they may not have gotten otherwise, and come out a better employee.”

Plans call for clearing land near the Woodall Advanced Technology Center where utility poles can be erected along with lines and transformers to give students a hands-on training area, Alsobrooks said.