May 7, 2021

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SMECO, CSM Team Up for Pre-Apprenticeship Program

Pre-Apprenticeship Program
SMECO President and CEO Austin J. Slater Jr. announces CSM’s new Pre-Apprenticeship Program at the April 25 dedication and ribbon-cutting for the college’s Center for Trades and Energy Training at the Regional Hughesville Campus.

Each time Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative announces a training class for apprentice linemen, hundreds of applications come in. However, many of the applicants lack the basic skills they need to even apply – they cannot climb a ladder properly or use a shovel. To combat this problem, SMECO has teamed up with College of Southern Maryland to create a pre-apprenticeship program.

Being a lineman for an electric utility is important work, offers good pay, and is physically challenging. Linemen earn an average of $35.96 an hour, according to Indeed, an online job site that tracks salary data in certain industries.

“It’s a brotherhood,” said Jason Atherton, technical training manager at SMECO. “People require electricity. Linemen are the people who go out there and make sure you have it.”

In response to SMECO’s need for qualified applicants, the CSM has worked with SMECO to create the Pre-Apprenticeship Program and help provide practical electrical utility worker training. The 12-week program will be offered at CSM’s newly opened Regional Hughesville Campus. Courses will focus on skills needed for candidates for utility training programs as well as skills that are desirable in any of the trades. Those who complete the program will earn a continuing education certificate from CSM and get hiring preferences from SMECO. SMECO has contacted all of the regional electrical utilities and contractors to tell them about this new resource and encouraged them to support it.

“SMECO has been collaborating with CSM on a program of study to meet a very important need … What they have come up with is truly exciting,” said SMECO President and CEO Austin J. Slater Jr., announcing the Pre-Apprenticeship Program at the April 25 dedication and ribbon-cutting for CSM’s new Center for Trades and Energy Training at the Regional Hughesville Campus.

“Students will spend 12 weeks learning core construction skills and safety practices here in the CTET,” Mr. Slater said, “And then they will go across the road to the SMECO’s lineman training yard for basics in electrical utility work, including pole climbing, which is the great leveler. SMECO will be providing the electrical utility practicum as a community service as a good partner with CSM.” Mr. Atherton will be the SMECO instructor for the 40-hour field practicum portion of the course.

“It involves a lot of safety training,” said CTET Director Bruce Posey about the requirements for the certificate. Required courses will cover excavation safety, working in confined spaces, first aid and CPR and core construction skills.

SMECO has offered more support for the Pre-Apprenticeship Program by funding two scholarships to help promising students who demonstrate financial need and are from an underserved population for the fall 2017 semester. More scholarships are available through the CSM Foundation.

Any employers who hires a students from this program will get a new employee who has already been trained to be placed on the job site almost immediately.

“If you don’t have any skills, it’s tough to find a job,” Posey said. “We can help you get the skills needed to be considered for employment.”

The Pre-Apprenticeship Program will be offered at the Regional Hughesville Campus beginning late summer/early fall, and students can register now. To learn more about the scholarships, contact the CSM Foundation at 301-934-7649. For information on CSM’s Pre-Apprenticeship Program, visit CSM’s website.

To learn more about SMECO, visit its Leader member page.

For more about the College of Southern Maryland, visit its Leader member page.


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