First class of community college lineworker students nearing graduation

First class of community college lineworker students nearing graduation
Community, students benefit from new lineworker training program at Bishop State Community College. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)

Alabama’s first class of community college students training to become lineworkers is wrapping up with plans to offer another class soon.

In January, 23 students began a 9-week lineworker training program at Bishop State Community College in Mobile. The class is taught by instructors from Alabama Power.

“Having Alabama Power to come on our campus was just an opportunity we could not pass up,” said Courtney Steele, communications coordinator for Bishop State Community College. “Anytime we can give our students a chance to not only provide jobs for themselves and their family, but also to put back into the economy where they live in, we have to be a part of it. That’s our mission and our job.”

Bishop State Community College partners with Alabama Power for lineworker training class from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The purpose of the program is to prepare students for rewarding careers as lineworkers. Students can learn the fundamentals of electricity as well as the math and science knowledge needed to work on power lines. Coy Thomas, a training analyst at Alabama Power, said seeing the students progress is rewarding.

“Seeing someone start from square one, not having a clue about how to put on a set of hooks, to the time where they can climb a pole and work aloft, it’s a rewarding job,” Thomas said. “The hope is that at the end of this, all 23 of them are able to go out and get a job out in the career field as a lineman or as an apprentice lineman starting off. It might be with Alabama Power, it might be with a contractor, it could be with anybody, but our job is to go out and them have a lineman job somewhere.”

Understanding the importance of keeping safety first when working with electricity is a focus of the program. Philip Stiell, one of the students in the lineworker training class at Bishop State, said Thomas and the rest of the instructors have been great.

“Extremely knowledgeable and patient,” Stiell said. “It’s hard to understand patience until you see it working in your favor. We’re all learning. We’re all new. Very few of us have climbed. The fact that they’re willing to sit there and answer every question we have and make sure we’re doing everything safely means the world.”

Bishop State’s Steele said the students are eager to graduate March 16 and start a career with Alabama Power or any of the other companies along the Gulf Coast.

“We’re just happy to be able to partner with Alabama Power for this program and offer an opportunity for our students and the community,” Steele said.

The next class of lineworker training at Bishop State will begin in June, but registration closes Wednesday, March 4. Additional lineworker training classes will be offered later this year at Lawson State Community College and Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham.

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