Insights > Lineworker Boot Camp provides 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity for new hires
Lineworker Boot Camp provides 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity for new hires
Entergy Arkansas lineworkers are unsung heroes who build, maintain and repair the electrical grid to help power homes and businesses in the community no matter the weather conditions. Lineworkers are a close-knit group and often refer to themselves as being part of a family, and nine apprentice lineworkers join this family this month after recently graduating from the summer 2022 Lineworker’s Boot Camp.
The boot camp is a 12-week Entergy training program that introduces new hires to the fundamentals of working with high-voltage electrical equipment and helps explain the key principle of safety as a core value. Trainees learn through classroom instruction and practice on real, but unenergized, equipment at Entergy’s Knowledge and Skills Training (KAST) Center in Clinton, Mississippi.
After graduation, awards are given to top performing trainees, which are chosen by the students and instructors based on their performance. During the summer session, two out of the four top awards went to Arkansas residents. Willie Brewster won the most improved lineworker award and Darion Laws was recognized as the best overall performer.
“This is a great achievement for Willie and Darion,” said Adam Effrein, director of distribution reliability at Entergy Arkansas. “I’m really excited to work with these guys in the field and watch the careers of all our new lineworkers continue to grow.”
“Winning the award was a total surprise,” said Darion Laws, lineworker apprentice for Entergy Arkansas. “My attitude has always been just to work hard and be myself. I’m very thankful to my instructors for giving us the opportunity to be hands on with the equipment and helping me become more knowledgeable about the job.”
After serving in the military, Laws was looking for a career change where he could put his hardworking mentality to good use. While attending Lineworker’s Boot Camp, he quickly realized this was the right place for him.
“I’ve always seen lineworkers as being the first responders to the community during a storm, so with my military background, this was a natural fit for me. I really enjoy helping others and what we do really helps people in their time of need.”
Last year, Entergy enhanced its lineworker training program with the opening of a Center of Excellence at the KAST Center, which serves as a high-tech training facility focused on new equipment and modern technologies. Training includes pole climbing, basic electrical theory, bucket truck use and first aid.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the participants and I’m excited to see their hard work pay off,” said Chris Elliot, supervisor of distribution learning and development at Entergy. “Our mission is to promote and support employee development and organizational effectiveness by providing high-quality standardized, industry leading educational learning programs. It gives me great satisfaction to provide the necessary training to employees for such a vital job.”
Boot camp is followed by a four-year apprenticeship before earning the designation of journeyman lineworker. The apprenticeship includes the paid-work component and the instructional component, where new employees acquire workplace-relevant knowledge and skills deemed necessary by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to become a certified lineworker.
When disasters occur, lineworkers average 16-hour workdays and must be generally in good health, because one key skill required is setting and climbing power poles. Every day functions include installing fixtures such as breaker boxes, switches and motor controls to generate, transmit and distribute energy safely.
Since graduating from Lineworker’s Boot Camp, the newest Entergy Arkansas apprentices have been busy maintaining power for customers experiencing extremely high temperatures, which causes heavy use on the electrical grid.
The trainees were hired to fill openings in their specific locations – usually their hometowns – throughout the Entergy Arkansas service territory. Sometimes crews assist in restoration efforts as part of reciprocal agreements with the company’s sister operating companies in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, as well as utility companies in other states when needed.
Anyone interested in the program should search “apprentice” at www.jobs.entergy.com for position openings.
The newest team members and their work locations are:
Stetson Nix, Conway
Willie Brewster, Stuttgart
Jake Gregory, Malvern
David Thomason, Malvern
Darion Laws, Hot Springs
Landon Gray, Hot Springs
Noah Shields, Little Rock
Gage McCool, Little Rock
Brady Jensen, Little Rock