The Daily Express

Owens and FirstEnergy Form Training Partnership

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Owens Community College students now will be able prepare for a career as an electrical line worker ­ and earn an Associate of Technical Studies Degree ­ through an new partnership between Owens and FirstEnergy Corp.

Continuing to meet head-on the educational and training needs of area residents, Owens Community College President Daniel H. Brown and Toledo Edison Western Regional President Jim Murray have signed a partnership agreement for a new program that focuses on Electric Utility Technology.

"Owens Community College has always been committed to offering the latest in technical programs," President Brown said. "Now, as partners, FirstEnergy and Owens Community College can work together to enhance the training and educational opportunities for these students ­ and fulfill the need for qualified employees."

This partnership will help FirstEnergy to replace retiring line workers, as company projections indicate that FirstEnergy soon will face the challenge of replacing more than 40 percent of its existing line worker workforce due to retirement.

"In the past, line workers learned their craft and achieved specialized skills through classroom work and on-the-job training," explained FirstEnergy's Rick Luse, Director of the Power Systems Institute. "However, because of electric deregulation and the development of rapid advancements in technology, the training timeframe for utility line workers needs to be much more condensed than in the past. This is why this partnership plays such an important role in our workforce development program."

Students will spend 21/2 days each week in class at Owens Community College taking college courses such as National Electric Code, Contemporary Business, Supervision, Composition, Physics and Computers. The other 21/2 days each week will be spent gaining hands-on work experience at FirstEnergy's Lakewood Service Center, located in Northwood off I-280.

Students in the Electric Utility Technology program also will achieve first-aid and CPR certifications and obtain a Class A Commercial Driver's License (CDL). The program, which begins August 27, will enroll a maximum of 20 students each fall.

Upon successfully completing the 70 credit hours in the 21-month program, students will earn the Associate Degree. They also will be given special consideration for employment at FirstEnergy.

"We will be evaluating the students over the 21-month period to determine their employability with FirstEnergy," Luse said.

Owens Community College is the fastest-growing college in Ohio, offering more than 100 programs and majors in agriculture, business, health, public service, industrial and engineering technologies. With nearly 17,000 students enrolled on the Toledo-area and Findlay campuses, Owens offers its students small classes, personal attention and the lowest tuition in Northwest Ohio.

FirstEnergy is a diversified energy services holding company based in Akron. Its electric utility operating companies ­ Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company, Pennsylvania Power and Toledo Edison ­ comprise the nation's 10th largest electric system serving 2.2 million customers within 13,200 square miles of northern and central Ohio and Pennsylvania.

For those interested in this program, FirstEnergy will be hosting orientation sessions to allow potential students to experience some of the skills required for the line worker profession. To sign up to attend an orientation session, call Cathy Deka, Assistant Director of the Power Systems Institute, FirstEnergy, at 216/479-3483.

For more information on enrolling at Owens Community College, call at (567) 661-7449 or 1-800-GO-OWENS, Ext. 7449.



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