Congratulations to 17 GCC Verdugo Power Academy graduates, the sixth class to complete training to be electric utility linemen. At a ceremony June 5, local officials and instructors praised them for the completing the rigorous 600-hour course (17 units of college credit with 400 hours of academics and 200 hours of climbing!).
Glendale City Manager Scott Ochoa called this program an alternative to the traditional 4-year degree, and said our educational system should be directing interested students to this kind of high-quality technical training. He also stressed that time, patience and focus were the keys to students’ success and will also be assets as they apply for jobs.
GWP Assistant Manager Ramon Abueg was the impetus behind the VPA, which now operates within GCC’s Technology Division. He said the goal is to give back, by recruiting from the community workers for the community. The program’s sponsors – Glendale Community College, Glendale Water and Power, and the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board – are all understandably proud of this program.
GCC President of the Board of Trustees Dr. Armine Hacopian mentioned the technical knowledge and skills students have mastered, and expressed confidence that their hard work will lead to job opportunities. Hacopian also acknowledged Abueg and GCC Technology Division Chair Scott Rubke for founding the program. Rubke introduced all the graduates and gave them their certificates.
Anthony Silvers, Safety and Training Instructor for GWP and Assistant Safety and Training Instructor for VPA, also mentioned the rigor necessary for students to complete this program (large photos of them in action on electric poles lined the auditorium!), and credited fellow instructors including the legendary Randy States (a Linesman Hall of Fame member who still consults and teaches at GWP and VPA) and Robert Torres (who stressed physical and mental discipline as all good coaches do).
Students Louie Paredes and Sang Nguyen enthusiastically thanked instructors and sponsors for the program. Paredes said some courses he originally considered had a two-year waiting list and part-time class schedule. He and his fellow students progressed through VPA in 16 weeks to get the certificate they need to apply for linesman and other electric utility jobs. His words to the class: “Good luck guys, let’s show them who we are!”
Begun in 2009 as a federal stimulus/ARRA program for qualifying unemployed applicants, the popular Verdugo Power Academy one-semester program has continued with funding by a U.S. Dept. of Energy grant, and all can apply. The next class, which begins this fall, is already filling up!