Helping NCC train the next generation of utility workers
At Northampton Community College's Bethlehem Campus, future lineworkers are being trained to construct and maintain the overhead and underground electrical systems that enable the rest of us to power up our lights, TVs and computers. They are also getting instruction in basic electricity and electrical identification, live-line tools, metering, climbing and rigging and accident prevention.
They do all this with the help of talented faculty, many of whom have worked for years as lineworkers themselves, and PPL Electric Utilities. PPL has been involved with the program since the beginning, helping to craft the curriculum. The utility also has donated utility poles for students to hone their skills. On October 30, PPL made another generous donation to the program: a bucket truck that helps lift workers up to access hard to reach places.
"This donation is so important. The engine had blown in our previous truck. We had no truck otherwise. We were renting one temporarily. It's critical to have this piece of equipment for our training," Michele Pappalardo, NCC's associate dean of Workforce Development, said. "PPL has always been a great support to the program and always make themselves accessible to our students. We're very grateful to them."
NCC President Dr. Mark Erickson accepted the keys to the truck from Carol Obando-Derstine, regional affairs director at PPL Electric Utilities.
"This has been a true example of a successful business education partnership," Dr. Erickson said. "Companies like PPL help our students increase their skills by allowing them to get hands-on experience. Once finished with the program, graduates go out into the community as skilled and valuable workers who contribute greatly to our region's success."
Dr. Erickson was the first to test the truck, going up in the bucket platform in the outdoor, sky-high classroom, located behind Hartzell Hall, where students learn their craft. Students quickly followed, eager to experience the new donation themselves.
"NCC is playing a critical role in helping to train tomorrow's workforce and we appreciate everything that the college does," Obando-Derstine said. "We're proud of the partnership we have with NCC and hope this addition to the program will help future line workers learn how to do their jobs safely, effectively and efficiently. "
NCC's lineworkers program began in 2011. To date, the twelve-week program has graduated 115 students. Graduates are in the position to be hired as trainees for electric and cable companies with the ultimate goal of becoming journeymen lineworkers. Average starting salary is $54,000 per year (data source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
About PPL Electric Utilities
PPL Electric Utilities provides electric delivery service to more than 1.4 million homes and businesses in Pennsylvania and ranks among the best utility companies in the country for customer service and reliability. PPL Electric Utilities is a major employer in the communities it serves. It is a subsidiary of PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL). For more information visit www.pplelectric.com.
About Northampton Community College
With an enduring commitment to the regional community it serves and a focus on student success, Northampton Community College has developed a reputation as an institution of extraordinary distinction, earning accolades at the state and national levels for innovative programs, outstanding faculty and impressive student achievements. It counts among its successful alumni a 4-time Pulitzer Prize winner and an Academy Award winning director as well as a host of CEOs, presidents, and leaders of business and industry. Today, Northampton Community College has locations in Bethlehem, Southside Bethlehem, and Monroe County, serving more than 30,000 students each year from 53 counties, 48 countries and 25 states. For more information visit www.northampton.edu.