Lineworker pre-apprenticeship enhances Eastern Shore workforce

On Dec. 20, seven future Eastern Shore utility lineworkers celebrated the completion of their 13-week journey through the newly created lineworker pre-apprenticeship program. Thanks to collaborative efforts among Wor-Wic Community College, Choptank Electric Cooperative, and the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, these young men have the skills to enter the utility workforce.

Brian Postles, Hunter Rodgers, Gavin Roystuart, Zachary Smith, Andrew Brinsky, Richard Donaldson Jr, and Jason Lewis are ready to begin their careers and climb the next step toward becoming utility lineworkers. Postles accepted a job with Choptank Electric Cooperative immediately following the ceremony.

“Not only will these men make good linemen, but they are all really good people, and that is what matters most,” said Jerone Mabe, program instructor and VMDAEC manager of technical services.

Choptank Electric Cooperative President and CEO Mike Malandro addressed the graduates in saying, “It’s a noble profession. It really impacts daily lives of everybody who lives in your community. Be safe.”

VMDAEC Vice President of Safety and Training Services Alan Scruggs added, “You now have an insight into one of the best careers imaginable. My advice to you after my 30 years in the co-op family: Never quit learning, always ask questions, and, most importantly, always make safety the top priority for you, your families and your coworkers.”

Grant-funded through September 2025, the Powerline Worker Pre-Apprenticeship program is currently offered at no cost for chosen applicants living or working in the state of Maryland. The grant also covers subsequent CDL training of successful program graduates. Much of the hands-on training is conducted at Choptank Electric’s Regional Service Center facility in Salisbury and is led by instructors from the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, which also operates its Eastern Shore campus for apprenticeship programs at the same location.

“Wor-Wic is proud to be a part of this partnership to prepare utility lineworkers for a rewarding career,” said Ruth Baker, dean of continuing education and workforce development at Wor-Wic Community College. “It is 100% in line with our mission to train the local workforce. We look forward to continuing to work with Choptank and VMDAEC on this important effort.”

Program instruction covers training toward certification in CPR and first-aid, OSHA requirements and traffic control. Students gain critical knowledge of the industry, including power generation, transmission and distribution, as well as industry safety standards. Real-life scenarios and hands-on experience with pole climbing, setting and pulling poles, proper rigging and framing, bucket truck inspection, maintenance and operation, and electrical test equipment prepares students to become immediate contributors to their future employers.

“This partnership with Wor-Wic Community College and VMDAEC supports the future of the industry and provides first-hand training for lineworkers right here on the Eastern Shore,” said Malandro.

Second cohort begins in February 2024

Visit for the next semester and learn more about the Powerline Worker Pre-Apprenticeship Program. Contact Rhonda Banks at Wor-Wic Community College for more details at [email protected].

–Report by Jim Robertson, Manager of Member Services, VMDAEC.