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Calhoun to partner with Huntsville Utilities and TVA to address line worker shortage

Calhoun Community College will manage the scholarships and enroll students in the college’s Pre-Apprentice Line Worker Program.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Calhoun Community College in partnership with Huntsville Utilities and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will provide $100,000 in scholarship funding to train and educate utility line workers. 

Calhoun Community College will manage the scholarships and enroll students in the college’s Pre-Apprentice Line Worker Program. The partnership was created to address the growth in the Huntsville-Madison County population, which led to a demand for services resulting in an increased need for utility line workers. 

"Through the leadership of our CEO and president, Mr. West Kelley, we came up with a fund and an innovation fund where we could give back to the community to help those that may have some barriers," Harry Hobbs, Vice President of Employee Engagement for Huntsville Utilities shares. "So, we're providing ten folks with the ability to go to this training for free, free lunch, free transportation, free tuition when they graduate, even a free tool bag about a $9,000 to $10,000 value for ten people."

This pathway also will address a growing need for more line workers in the area.

“We have an immediate need for line workers, and we need to get them trained right away,” Hobbs shares. “Workforce development is a priority for Huntsville Utilities as we continue to grow. We are excited about this opportunity to provide a path for individuals in our service area to receive training that could lead to a career in the utility industry."

TVA is the largest public power company in the United States providing electricity to 153 power companies like Huntsville Utilities. 

"TVA has over 16,000 miles of power lines that crisscross seven states plus approximately 263,000 miles of lines that our 153 local power companies have. As electricity demand grows, we need a skilled workforce to provide clean, low-cost, reliable power," said Jared Mitchem, Regional Vice President for TVA South Region. “Partnering with Huntsville Utilities and Calhoun Community College ensures that we can recruit and train the workforce we need as we build the energy system of the future."

Huntsville Utilities and TVA will contribute $50,000 each to the scholarship. The training will take place at the Calhoun Lineworkers Pole Yard on the main campus in Decatur. The scholarships are earmarked specifically for the Huntsville Utilities service area. The Calhoun Community College Foundation will manage the funds, the scholarship criteria, and the selection process.

The Madison County Commission is also helping out by providing a vehicle and a driver to transport students from Huntsville Utilities to the training site. 

"We want to help remove barriers so people can become productive citizens, so they can take care of themselves," Violet Edwards of District 6 shares. "So, they can take care of their families and we found that as Madison County grows and a hospital grows, that transportation is a huge issue. And so now we have a fleet, and we have drivers, and this is our small part to fill that gap. And as I said, we are literally going the extra mile."

“We are excited about this initiative and the impact it will have on the need for line workers,” said Calhoun Community College President, Dr. Jimmy Hodges. “Our program provides the necessary skills and training desired by utility companies and contractors across North Alabama. In fact, most of our students have jobs waiting for them when they complete the program.” 

The scholarship recipients will receive free tuition for the seven-week line worker course and a daily gift card for lunch. Upon graduation, students will also receive a free tool bag equipped with basic line worker tools. 

Calhoun will take applications for the scholarships May 23rd through Monday, May 29th 2023. Applicants are expected to have no aversion to heights and to possess adequate upper body strength required for successful completion of the program.  

To register for this program, visit here

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