The Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) honored Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) as an outstanding leader in advancing education and workforce development in Louisiana during the 6th annual LCTCS Impact Awards Gala held here Wednesday.
LCTCS presented SWEPCO with its 2023 Curt Eysink Excellence in Workforce Development Award which recognized SWEPCO’s recent efforts along with Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College (NLTCC) to offer a new Lineworker Certification Program.
“On behalf of LCTCS and NLTCC, we are proud to recognize SWEPCO as an outstanding leader for its contributions toward workforce development and pleased to present the organization with this award,” explained Dr. Jayda Spillars, NLTCC Chancellor. “SWEPCO’s partnership has helped to advance innovative strategies which improved opportunity and excellence in higher education for the LCTCS, its colleges, college foundations, and students. SWEPCO is making a difference in the lives of countless students and their families as we all work together to grow a stronger Louisiana.”
Drew Seidel, SWEPCO's Vice President, Distribution Region Operations, and Brad Brown, the company's Technical Training Supervisor received the award.
“American Electric Power (AEP) and its operating company SWEPCO recognize that innovative approaches to workforce development are necessary to effectively recruit qualified, diverse talent in today’s competitive labor market and this includes a commitment to building a diverse and skilled workforce through partnerships to grow the talent pipeline from community colleges, high schools, and other stakeholders,” Drew Seidel explained. “This award signifies that SWEPCO's initiatives are acknowledged for making a substantial impact on the local education system and workforce landscape.”
AEP and SWEPCO are designing a comprehensive labor strategy to expand higher education career and technical education (CTE) partnerships as well as implement internship programs across the enterprise, including at SWEPCO, for craft positions.
“This work and our comprehensive labor strategy results in SWEPCO’s ability to hire line workers at varying levels of skills and experience (i.e., Pre-apprentice through Journey) and increases the available pool of qualified candidates while optimizing training costs,” Seidel added.
SWEPCO’s most recent partnership includes a memorandum of Understanding with NLTCC and focuses on increasing the talent pool and eliminating barriers to hire line workers by offering multiple recruiting paths, including internships.
“The partnership with AEP SWEPCO has been instrumental in ensuring that the equipment and curriculum being utilized in the NLTCC Power Lineworker program is current and relevant to the industry needs.” said Dr. Jayda Spillers, NLTCC Chancellor. “NLTCC is committed to providing stellar training that will attract a talent pipeline to meet the shortage of line workers in the northwest and surrounding areas of Louisiana.”
Nominees for the LCTCS Impact Awards are selected based on their exceptional contributions to higher education in Louisiana, or the development of programs that aim to further the workforce industry of Louisiana. Key focus areas include college and career readiness, improved access to quality education, implementing educational reforms, developing career paths that meet the state's workforce needs, and cultivating leadership excellence among faculty.
“SWEPCO’s workforce development efforts include an internal line school,” explained SWEPCO Technical Training Supervisor, Brad Brown. “Across our AEP footprint there are dedicated trainers like me for our 10 internal line schools, which includes ours at SWEPCO. Not every utility offers this level of training that can reach beyond our employees but also provides services to other electric Utilities, Cooperatives or Municipalities. NLTCC is an important addition to our efforts to prepare the next generation.”
At SWEPCO, NLTCC’s Lineworker Certification program represents the second program endorsed by SWEPCO. SWEPCO routinely has about 60 students annually in its internal line school.
About the NLTCC Certification Program
The NLTCC Lineworker Certification Program is expected to span 32 weeks and includes up to 1,100 hours of both classroom and hands-on instruction. Students graduate with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful at SWEPCO in part because the program’s curriculum is based on programs underway within AEP.
Participants who complete the NLTCC pre-apprenticeship program can earn up to eight certifications and could interview for a coveted lineworker internship with SWEPCO.
Internships at SWEPCO provide students a unique opportunity to work with real-world hands-on experiences through their 16-week internship program. Upon successful completion of the program, interns can be offered permanent employment. SWEPCO and AEP continue to work on a comprehensive labor strategy to expand trade school and higher education partnerships as well as implement internship programs across our footprint, including at SWEPCO for craft positions.
Explore careers with American Electric Power: https://www.aep.com/careers/
Photo: From L to R: Drew Seidel, SWEPCO Vice President, Distribution Region Operations; Dr. Jayda Spillars, NLTCC Chancellor; and Brad Brown, SWEPCO Technical Training Supervisor