There’s a reason we call our lineworkers our heroes in blue: They’re dedicated to serving our community by safely restoring, maintaining and upgrading the power you rely on, and are ready to head out at all hours of day or night, in scorching heat, storms and frigid winds.
But not everyone can be a hero. And increasingly, fewer people are interested. National Public Radio reported in 2015 that a third of the nation’s lineworkers will retire in the next decade and utilities face a shortage of new workers. Many are scrambling to entice millennials to enter the field. And PEC isn’t immune: Over the next nine years, about 30 percent of our lineworkers will become eligible for retirement.
Despite the shortage, though, PEC’s got the best on the lines. We recruit and retain top talent by combining great benefits and salaries with the cooperative’s personal touch.
PEC expects excellence of its staff and rewards them accordingly with competitive salaries and a wide variety of benefits. We offer extensive on-the-job training, classwork and mentorship through our apprenticeship program, which has been recognized as a “standard of excellence” by the United States Department of Labor. PEC also participates in a statewide Veterans Affairs program granting veterans financial assistance as they work toward journeyworker status.
“It’s a great benefit, getting a little extra assistance as an apprentice,” said PEC Lineworker Apprentice Robert Collins, a former Marine who was recruited to PEC after his Northwest Lineman College (NLC) team emerged as grand champions at a lineman’s rodeo. Collins now helps recruit for PEC himself, reaching out especially to his fellow veterans.
“You just feel lucky working for such a great company a lot of people want to work for,” Collins said. “It’s rewarding to talk to the kids and say, ‘I was lucky; I got hired. This is a great opportunity. Just keep working hard at school and shine.’”
A personal connection
In a competitive market, recruiting and retaining top talent can be challenging. The real secret to PEC’s success is our people. Employees here call each other family, and they take care of each other, too. PEC Safety & Technical Training Manager James Vasquez personally knows the power of connection.
“I go up with our apprentices to NLC at least once per class, just so they feel supported and know we’re looking out for them,” Vasquez said. “I also check in on the other students and get to know them.”
That personal touch makes the difference, Vasquez said, especially when other utilities are recruiting from the same schools and career fairs.
“I think many of our lineworkers choose us because of the personal feeling, when I walk in and know their name,” Vasquez said. “When I go to the graduation and say, ‘Hey, I saw you in the rodeo and you did outstanding.’ Before they ever even get to PEC, they know that our co-op is a down-to-earth, family-focused company.”
Despite the heat, the hard work and emergency callouts, that same sense of community is what keeps our recruits focused on the long climb to journeyworker.
“PEC’s simply a great place to work,” PEC Lineworker Apprentice and recent recruit Brandon Culton said. “That speaks for itself, as far as I’m concerned.”
Think a career in blue is right for you? View available job opportunities and join the team at jobs.pec.coop.