Power Academy Offers Training Geared to Jobs

Amy Hirsch

A new program at Glendale Community College called the Verdugo Power Academy (Industrial Technology 155) is set to begin Sept. 21.

The academy, in collaboration with the city of Glendale Department of Water and Power (GWP), is a career-training program leading to jobs in the electric power industry.

Due to a local shortage of utility workers, the main goal of the program is to fill job gaps and help generate an interest in careers in the utility industry.

“Generally it’s getting harder and harder to attract good, qualified, educated workers into various technical and trades positions within the utility,” said Glenn Steiger, General Manager of GWP.

The program is the result of GWP, Verdugo Workforce Investment Board, and Glendale College joining forces to help address this problem.

According to the Power Academy Web site, “The Verdugo Workforce Investment Board is comprised of business, industry and community leaders that develop workforce policies and oversee government funding for training and employment activities in the Glendale, Burbank and La Canada Flintridge area.”

The mission of the program is to increase awareness of jobs in the utility field and to provide classroom and practical instruction in the skills needed.

The course will be 17 units, held five days a week, eight hours a day, over a 16-week period. It will cover a range of topics in the electric power field, including safety principles, electrical line mechanics, transformers and meters. Students will learn how to climb power poles, maintain and build overhead lines. Instruction in newer power saving technologies such as smart grids will be included. Once they graduate from the program, students will have the skills necessary to apply for a position in the utilities work force.

Instructional curriculum for the program will be provided by GCC, with GWP supplying facilities, materials, technical and instructional support. One of the instructors will be Randy States, who has been teaching lineman apprentices since the early 1960s and was recently inducted into the International Linemen’s Hall of Fame
“In the future [the academy] will provide a growing pool of qualified, enthusiastic workers that we can all utilize to eventually populate the utilities both here in Glendale and throughout Southern California,” said Steiger. In addition to being a power academy, the program will soon expand into a course that teaches the principles of the water utility as well.

The Power Academy is funded through a federal stimulus grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board. Orientation sessions were held the end of August at GCC and the Verdugo Job Center, with final interviews by GWP scheduled at GCC last week. To qualify, one must be a high school graduate, at least 18, and take a Math and English assessment at GCC.

According to Scott Rubke, GCC Technology and Aviation Division Chair, “The purpose of the program is to retrain currently unemployed displaced workers and get them back in the workforce as quickly as possible.” Rubke said there has been a huge response so far, with many more applicants than spaces available.

The grant of $274,000 covers a total of three semester sessions with 20 students in each session. All tuition, fees and supplies are funded by the grant. Additional grants are being requested for training programs in smart grids, wind turbines and water management according to Rubke.

Further information about the Verdugo Power Academy may be obtained from Lydia Basmajian, Counselor for Instruction and Workforce Development at [email protected] (818) 240-1000 Ext. 5918; or Scott Rubke, Technology and Aviation Division Chair, at [email protected], ext. 554