The reputation of OSU Institute of Technology’s High Voltage Lineman associate degree program caught the attention of the Cherokee Nation when looking for a way to meet industry demands.
OSUIT Division of Workforce & Economic Development (WFED) has partnered with Cherokee Nation Career Services to offer a non-credit certificate program called High Voltage Lineman training.
This certificate course is currently open to Cherokee Nation citizens and other individuals who are able to qualify for CNCS federal grants, such as displaced workers. This program is provided through CNCS, which is supported through a federal grant and other allocated tribal funds.
This need arose from a growth period in the industry and increased demand for additional linemen. Cherokee Nation Career Services approached WFED in late 2019 during talks with industry partners about developing and offering a High Voltage Lineman Certificate program within the Cherokee Nation boundaries. They were aware of the reputation of OSUIT's High Voltage Lineman program that was already in place, so instead of reinventing the wheel, they reached out for assistance in developing a certificate program having similar content for the Cherokee Nation.
"The main goal of this program is to train and keep these students local to fill the vacancies created by seasoned linemen retiring in Oklahoma," said Na-komas Blackford, workforce training coordinator at OSUIT.
The program, which began in summer 2020, has already had 18 students complete the program. The second cohort of 12 students is currently in class, with another cohort of 12 students scheduled to start in April.
"Seasoned linemen are retiring or approaching retirement, adding to the already increased demand for qualified individuals to fill both new positions and vacancies created by retirement," said Hunter Palmer, career services economic development manager for the CNCS, in a previous release. "It is extremely beneficial to power companies to have a trained pool of candidates available to hire from, rather than training them on the job."
The students spend the first eight weeks in the classroom and on training grounds. The second eight weeks will be spent on internship and then back to the classroom for another eight weeks before leaving for their final eight-week internship to complete the program.
The program takes place in Tahlequah on a Cherokee Nation piece of land on N HWY 51. The Cherokee Nation generously donated the use of the land for the instructor, Brett Miller, to build the training ground.
Each student will complete 12 courses:
- Introduction to High Voltage Lineman
- High Voltage Lineman Safety
- High Voltage Pole Climbing Techniques
- AC/DC Principles
- Heavy Construction Equipment & Operation
- Principles of Operations of High Voltage Distribution Systems
- Underground Distribution Systems
- Overhead Distribution Systems
- Advance Distribution Systems
- Transmission Principles
- HVL Capstone
- OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) 10
- CPR & CDL Class A" training.
Before the first internship, students will be certified in the following: Class A CDL and OSHA 10, as well as be certified in CPR, digger operations, pole climbing, bucket truck rescue and pole top rescue.
Successful completion of the program will enable students to work with any power company doing high voltage line work.
To apply, candidates must be 18 or older, have a valid driver's license, dependable transportation, and pass the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety drug screening and physical. A Class A CDL is preferred but not required. Applicants do not need to be CN citizens if they qualified for Career Services federal grants.
"This program has helped OSUIT to establish a stronger partnership with Cherokee Nation than was previously enjoyed," said Blackford. "By partnering with the Cherokee Nation, OSUIT is able to help provide this already established, excellent training to more of Northeast Oklahoma for students that cannot or choose not to attend the Okmulgee campus for the degree program."
The program is a collaboration among not only OSUIT and CNCS but other industry partners. Tahlequah Public Works Authority, Lake Region Electric Cooperative, American Electric Power and Utility Plus Inc., Heavy Metal Training Institute, Public Service Company of Oklahoma and LineTec have been instrumental in the success of this program through equipment and material donations and hands-on training for interns at partner facilities.
Prospective students can apply by contacting CNCS at 918-453-5555 or email@example.com