MidAmerican Opens New Training Center For Apprentices

DES MOINES, Iowa =- MidAmerican Energy has opened a new Line Mechanic Training Center in Des Moines.

The new facility is needed in light of a looming shortage of line workers for the company. More than 50 percent of those workers are planning to retire in the next five to 10 years.

"Right now we have around 300 plus lineman in our company," said  Jim Dougherty, of MidAmerican Energy. "That kind of ebbs and flows with retirement and pre-hires, but we know we have a big challenge to keep that  classification at full strength."

The new facility was a former line truck office, which has been converted for use training crews on power lines, both indoors and out. There are over 100 poles and numerous transformers for crews to practice on.

"There's a huge safety component, it's very technically complicated," said Dougherty. "This is an effort to increase the level of training so that employees are better prepared for what they encounter in the field."

Also MidAmerican uses computer simulation to help train workers on wiring transformers safely.

MidAmerican worked with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers IBEW to attract new workers for this area.