Madison Hewitt-Park had completed just one year of college studying computer science when he realized college wasn’t for him. “I grew up with computers and my parents encouraged me to go into computer science. But as I was taking classes, I couldn’t picture myself behind a desk all the time,” Hewitt-Park said.
A friend’s father worked at Tucson Electric Power, and the thought of a skilled trade job piqued his interest. So Hewitt-Park completed Pima Community College’s Energy Technology program before he was hired as a craft trainee in TEP’s Craft Trades Trainee program. He now works as an Electronics Pre-apprentice in the Communications Services Department, where he ensures accurate and reliable communications between substations and system control.
High school students with a strong interest and aptitude in math, science and technology might well consider a career in the skilled craft trades at TEP like Hewitt-Park did.
TEP’s craft trainee positions offer full-time work, pay, benefits and a clear pathway to a bright career in high-demand fields, including electricians, line construction workers, heavy equipment operators and welders.
“Our trainee program is really the first stepping-stone for recent graduates, military veterans or re-careering adults interested in a skilled trade in the energy industry,” explained Dana Hanson, Learning & Development Specialist. “This one-year program pays craft trainees to learn valuable on-the-job skills that prepare them for a career in the skilled craft trades. After some classroom learning, they’re working in the field to gain hands-on experience.”
Energy workers of the future will require skills in automation, electrical systems, network architecture and communications to monitor and control energy generation and delivery. They’ll also be critical to the expansion of renewable energy technologies, which is a primary focus of TEP’s energy plan.
TEP’s program provides a clear career progression to these higher skilled trade jobs and helps develop the next generation of energy leaders in a time when the industry is seeing a nationwide shortage of trade workers.
Classroom learning consists of basic math, electrical theory, tool identification and use, safety and software basics. Craft trainees also are coached on resume writing, test taking and interviewing to help prepare them to apply for permanent trade jobs that may become available at any time during their participation in the program.
The majority of the time, trainees work alongside experienced tradespeople and journeymen, rotating among the various trades: line construction, substation construction, electric repair and testing, fabrication and welding, metering, design, relay systems, electrical communications, fleet services, heavy equipment and transportation and quality control.
TEP’s Joanne Kingman, Training Supervisor for our Transmission & Distribution area, said the company’s recruitment efforts include promoting the skilled trades through virtual and in-person career fairs, student clubs at local middle and high schools and at Pima Community College.
“The skilled trades are an excellent alternative to careers that require a college degree. These well-paying jobs provide financial stability and independence, stable employment and a clear pathway for advancement for a rewarding, lifelong career,” Kingman said. “We’re hoping to attract more young adults to careers in the craft trades with an intentional focus on reaching more women and underrepresented individuals.”
Hewitt-Park urges other young adults who may be interested in a technical career to explore the opportunities at TEP. “All my skills were technical, but looking at TEP from the outside, I thought only lineworker jobs were options. I wasn’t aware there were so many other opportunities for men and women until I went through the craft trainee program.”
To qualify for the program, applicants must be 18 years or older and have a high school diploma or GED and a valid driver’s license. They also must have some education or experience related to a skilled trade within the construction, energy, engineering, technology or utility industry.
To apply as a craft trainee, visit tep.com/careers. Those who are interested in a skilled trade career but need additional technical training should consider enrolling in Pima Community College’s Energy Technology program or a high school Career and Technical Education program.