Creating jobs for our youth and addressing the future workforce needs of the Upper Peninsula. That’s what the Midwest Skills and Development Program and NMU are focused on doing.
Students from local high schools received an introduction to the lineman program complete with live tours; talks with instructors, former and current students; as well as on-site field demonstrations. For those that make the cut, the program has proven to be successful.
“A lot of them love it. It’s a very nice program that fills up quickly each year so we have a lot of interest and excitement each year. The placement rate is in the high 80’s percentage, so a lot of our graduates are able to find employment right after the program,” noted Derek Bush, a member of the Midwest Skills Development Program.
The live demonstration included teaching students to install, maintain, and operate electrical systems. After graduation, they will be able to supply electrical energy to residential, commercial and industrial partners. But, instructors say it’s not for the faint of heart.
“They also must have no fear of heights, we work in heights, we also work on high voltage electricity. Not here at the school but later on in their apprenticeship program. We also work around heavy equipment, so students need to be safety cautious,” warned Jerry LePage, the instructor of the program at NMU.
“I like heights. I like the pay. It pays well and it’s also a skill you can use around the house,” remarked Blake Kanuf of Gladstone High School.
Only 40 students are admitted to the one-year program each year. Graduates of the program receive a diploma from NMU.