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Duquesne Light Company and IBEW Local 29 Strengthen Future Workforce Through New Apprenticeship Program

Dec. 15, 2022
Overhead lineworkers can now be recognized as “journey-level workers” for the first time in the United States.

 Duquesne Light Company (DLC) announced a first-of-its-kind apprenticeship program for overhead lineworkers in partnership with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Lineworkers (IBEW) Local 29. The flagship program recently received unanimous approval from the Apprenticeship and Training Office within Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor & Industry. Through the program, DLC’s overhead lineworkers will have an opportunity to become accredited “journey-level workers,” indicating that an individual has completed a registered apprenticeship that provides extensive hands-on and classroom training.

The apprenticeship program is the first to be offered within the electric utility industry in the United States, where participants are given the occupation title of “overhead lineworker apprentice.” It is also the first IBEW program to be registered in Pennsylvania in nearly 25 years — a step that DLC and IBEW Local 29 hope will increase visibility and confidence in the education provided to lineworker applicants and apprentices.

DLC and IBEW Local 29 have used an apprenticeship model for decades to successfully train future lineworkers. Under the new apprenticeship program, IBEW Local 29 members can receive state and federal recognition for the skills they learn on the job, setting the bar even higher for quality, safe and comprehensive lineworker training.

“Through this registered lineworker apprenticeship — the first to be implemented anywhere in the country — we can encourage more schools and community organizations to promote the program as an option for high-value employment training,” said DLC’s Workforce Development Manager Katy Rittle, Ph.D. “Skilled lineworkers have long played a critical role in society, and that will only increase as the electric utility industry builds the workforce of the future to meet the growing needs of our customers and communities. This apprenticeship is also critical to DLC’s mission to advance a clean energy future for the Pittsburgh region.”

DLC and IBEW Local 29 were the first organizations to request standardization for and recognition of such an apprenticeship program in Pennsylvania and the country. Prior to this effort, the U.S. did not have an established “journey-level worker” accreditation for overhead lineworkers. With a large number of lineworkers nearing retirement age, there is an urgent need to encourage new, diverse workers to enter the field. This program helps promote a clear, family-sustaining career path in the lineworker trade and enables DLC to pave the way for similar programs throughout the country.

“The nationally recognized credential of ‘journey-level worker’ in the lineworker trade is something every IBEW member should be able to achieve,” said Glenn Camp, IBEW Local 29’s president and assistant business manager. Josh Ewing, business manager for IBEW Local 29, adds that “this additional level of accreditation will help us draw more candidates to the electric utility industry while strengthening our future workforce.”

As a state-registered apprenticeship, the program is being promoted by state and local workforce groups. The ability to reach a wider audience enables DLC to better attract diverse job candidates to ensure everyone can benefit from the workforce needs of a clean energy future.

Those who are interested in the apprenticeship can consider beginning the process through the company’s Electrical Distribution Technology (EDT) program. In partnership with the Community College of Allegheny County, the program offers necessary training for skilled craft positions in the electric utility industry. Upon successfully completing the EDT program, students can be considered for the apprenticeship and then potentially full-time employment with DLC.

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