Line workers hold one of the essential positions in a region’s critical infrastructure by safely maintaining their communities’ electricity access. In Jefferson County, Alabama and the Greater Birmingham region, there is a tremendous need for skilled line workers due to the high rate of retirements. Furthermore, with an average annual opening of 380 jobs each year in Alabama, the need for line workers is projected to grow 13.1 percent by 2026. ARC partner Jefferson State Community College saw this need and stepped up to connect students with good-paying opportunities opening up at power companies, municipal electrical departments, electric cooperatives, and contracting firms across Appalachian Alabama.
Using $250,000 in ARC support, Jefferson State established a Line Worker Training Program in collaboration with Alabama Power, Altec, Bevill State Community College and other partners. The program is led by local industry partners, and focuses on serving young adults, unemployed and underemployed citizens in Jefferson County and the Greater Birmingham region who lack the educational attainment, work experience, and skill level necessary to secure a full-time line worker position. Over the course of nine weeks, participants acquire the technical background, manual skills, interpersonal skills and certifications necessary for the installation and maintenance of electrical power, telephone, and cable television systems.
Jefferson State launched the program in 2020 and, in March 2021, graduated their inaugural class of 10 trainees. Within a week, the graduates had interviews with various utility companies and expect job offers shortly after. The school expects to train and place around 40 students each year through the program, making sure to place emphasis on connecting young, women and minority trainees to fill line worker vacancies in the area. ARC congratulates the inaugural class of line workers and Jefferson State on their efforts to develop a ready Appalachian workforce by successfully connecting students with high-paying jobs at local and regional businesses.