For many years we've provided apprentice training for lineworkers early in their careers to advance their knowledge and prepare them for required next steps in their certifications. And for many years this training was largely classroom-based learning. But we've been working on enhancements that provide more hands-on experiences.
Making room for growth
Getting outside required improvements to our training grounds, including spreading out work areas and creating a more realistic distribution training system. This allows apprentices to work on transformers and on top of poles to complete line switching, grounding, testing, and more distribution-related work. "Over the past few years, we've shifted to more field-based training—getting outside to do the work," said Operations Manager Darren Matetich, who's leading the training enhancement project.
"One of the biggest successes so far is the support within OTP," said Operations and Training Supervisor Kevin Backstrom. "All the trainers coming from throughout our company—it's truly a group effort and the more support and help there is, the better the outcome for everybody. Apprentices are also a huge resource in making these updates, as they're the ones restructuring the equipment we use for field training."
Keeping the momentum
Our training program includes two full weeks a year, one in the spring and one in the fall, with curriculum for each apprentice that progresses based on where they're at in the program. "Trainers from within our company work with apprentices on a 1:1 or 1:3 ratio," said Backstrom. "Their time is mostly focused on building or learning how to build line, doing transformer connections, reading prints, going over safety rules, and all kinds of different aspects of what they're going to need to know as they grow in their career." And while the program has come a long way over the past few years, we're keeping the momentum going. "We have equipment now that will allow us to take our training to another level—providing real-life experiences in a safe and controlled environment," said Matetich.
Learn more about linework and check out opportunities on our careers page.