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CO - OP LIVI NG


“I encourage them to think about it because it is a challenging position—it keeps me on my feet every day. It’s a great role to be in.”


The future of electric co-ops


According to CEWD, electric co-ops fare better than other types of electric utilities when it comes to an aging workforce. Roughly 36 percent of not-for- profi t, consumer-owned electric co-op lineworkers are under 37 years of age, versus just 30 percent for profi t-driven investor-owned utilities (IOUs). Still, co-ops are investing in their future work- force. For example, Tri-County Electric Cooperative in northwestern Oklahoma uses a program called “Electrical Powerline Technology” to incent new hires, said Barbara Pritchard, vice-president of ad- ministrative services. After a successful internship at Tri-County and upon an offi cial hire date, an ap- prentice lineman graduate may sign a fi ve-year con- tract to work at Tri-County and receive a full reim- bursement for the total cost of tuition. Others are partnering with local community col- leges to create special training programs for line- workers. Jackson Energy in McKee, Ky., for one, of- fers a full scholarship at the Somerset Community College Lineman Training Center in nearby Som- erset.


“Our cooperative has offered college scholarships for several years, and now that there is a lineman’s


school in our area, we want to help local students join our industry,” emphasizes Jackson Energy Pres- ident & CEO Don Schaefer.


The Lineman Training Center in Somerset, which launched in 2008, focuses on workplace safety, skill profi ciencies, academic training, and certifi cations such as fi rst aid and CPR. The program consists of four eight-week phases.


Why work at a co-op?


“Electric co-ops continue to be some of the best places to work in a community,” Turner stresses. “Salaries and benefi ts packages remain competitive in a time when other fi rms are scaling back. Co-ops often hire from within communities, and promote from within. We’re very good corporate citizens.” National electric cooperative career opportuni- ties are available at TouchstoneEnergy.jobs, the Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives’ career center where applicants can search for openings and sub- mit resumes.


“Our resources now touch almost every role at the co-op,” remarks Ann Maggard, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives director of communications and membership. “Helping co-ops recruit and retain the most valuable employees is essential in today’s world, and we’re glad to help out.” OL


Bill Pauda works at Tri-County Electric Co-op as a mapping technician.


Sources: NRECA Human Resources, Center for Energy Work- force Development, NRECA Strategic Analysis, Touchstone En- ergy. Megan Howard writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association


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