'Skills Need to Change' for Energy Workers, IBEW Tells Lawmakers

Utility Director Donnie Colston testified before a House subcommittee on March 7, telling members the role the IBEW and other unions can play in meeting the nation's increased demand for workers in the energy and nuclear industries.
Foremost among that, he told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, is training provided to IBEW members in conjunction with the utilities that employ them. The IBEW welcomes the federal government's help in encouraging prospective workers that good jobs are available in the energy and nuclear sectors, he said.

"The grid is changing," Colston said in response to a question from Rep. Peter Kilmer, D-Wash. "The skills need to change within the grid itself. The jobs within the utilities are very blue collar, high paying, highly skilled jobs."
Colston told the committee the average hourly wage of an IBEW member working in utility operations is $46.24, more than double the average of a typical U.S. worker - and that's before pensions and healthcare are included. That's due to the fact those jobs are becoming increasingly technical and the demand for workers has increased.

"When you talk about grid modernization, the lineman of yesterday, when you set poles and pull wire, is not the lineman of tomorrow," he said. "The lineman of tomorrow has to be digitally experienced enough to know that the sensors we put on the line to communicate with the system dispatch are allowing the utility to understand what's happening with the electricity."

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