Com Ed, the Chicago-area electric utility, is one of the better examples of a company that has taken succession planning to the next level. Com Ed employs 1,900 overhead linemen to help keep the lights on for its 3.8 million customers. In order to maintain the strength of its workforce, the company has forged various partnerships to address the shrinking pool of skilled workers like linemen.
Succession Planning at Com Ed
One example is a partnership Com Ed formed over a decade ago with City Colleges of Chicago to develop the Dawson Overhead Electrical Line Worker Program, with the objective of teaching skills and creating job opportunities for local residents. The 5-month curriculum leverages college instructors as well as Com Ed retirees to facilitate classroom-based academic and vocational training. Graduating students are then placed in a 2.5-year apprenticeship program, after which they can become linemen.
Since 2006, about 320 students have completed the Dawson program, leading to 160 job offers within Com Ed encompassing meter readers, helpers, and planners, with the ultimate goal to elevate the most promising employees to roles of overhead electricians, cable splicers, work planners and first line supervisors. All told, this program and others like it are helping Com Ed plug the skills gap and cultivate the next generation of employees. Click here to learn more about the Dawson program.
Succession planning is a huge concern for electric utilities, and so I applaud Com Ed’s efforts. Programs like Dawson are critical to ensure an influx of young talent with the skills necessary to replace retirees without subjecting the company to transitional inefficiencies or subjecting customers to outage restoration delays caused by a lack of knowledge in the field. There’s no doubt about it; succession planning is one of the most critical success factors when it comes to emergency preparedness in the utility industry.