- The primary responsibility of electric utilities is to supply consistent, dependable, and affordable energy to private customers, businesses, and industries. As with many businesses, electric utilities are experiencing the effects of an aging workforce and expending considerable resources to train their current and replacement workers. Community colleges can partner with electric utilities to provide effective learning environments for these workers, and gain access to new sources of revenue and community support for the colleges.
The purpose of this study was to describe the functions, features, and major design issues of an effective learning environment for training electric utility industry workers, the electric utility line-worker pole yard. Case studies of three “state of the art” line-worker pole yard training environments provide the basis for the study’s findings and implications.
The study was guided by the following research questions: (1) What is the function of a line-worker pole yard in supporting effective training?, (2) What are the features of present day (“state of the art”) line-worker pole yard learning
environments?, and (3) What are the major issues that need to be addressed in designing a line-worker pole yard learning environment for the future? The study participants included industry representatives, training coordinators, instructors, and students from the three selected “state of the art” line-worker pole yard sites.
The overall findings from the study resulted in composites of the desired features of learning outcomes, learning process, and learning environment for a line-worker pole yard training program and major issues that are affecting the future design of these training programs. Composite findings of a pole-yard training environment included unique features associated with: (a) outdoor, (b) indoor, (c) underground, (d) classroom, (e) gathering places, and (f) work-based learning components. Composite findings with regard to major issues that need to be considered in future designs of pole-yard training environments included: (a) available unrestricted land for expansion, (b) resource commitment level, (c) workforce demographics, (d) aging industrial infrastructure, (e) electronic information and communication capability, (f) quality and quantity of available instructors, and (g) environmental and economic impact.