Lineworker Scholarship to Help Increase Diversity in Skilled Trades
Edison International launches its first scholarship to increase diversity among SCE’s craft lineworkers, with an initial focus on attracting Black participants.
written by Caroline Aoyagi-Stom, Energized by Edison Editor
When Terrance Bynum graduated from high school, he started working in printing. His brother, Albert, who is five years older, was working as a groundman at Southern California Edison and making a good living.
It was not long afterwards that Terrance decided to follow in his big brother’s footsteps.
“My older brother was my hero growing up,” he said.
Today, Albert, a former troubleman, is an SCE retiree after 32 years with the company. Terrance is currently a troubleman out of the utility’s Long Beach District with 25 years at SCE.
Terrance still remembers his first day as an SCE apprentice. He had been called out on a Sunday night to help repair a bad transformer. His older brother, Albert, was the foreman on the job.
Over the years, the siblings worked together on many assignments. And they are proud to be part of the lineworker legacy at SCE.
“I love keeping people’s lights on and when you love what you are doing, it is easy,” said Terrance. “We are the front line for Edison.”
Love of his job is something he regularly shares with students while visiting high schools as a board member of IBEW Local 47 to talk about a career as a lineworker. And he encourages young people to consider applying for Edison International’s new Lineworker Scholarship program, in partnership with IBEW Local 47, particularly those in the Black community. IBEW Local 47 is providing $50,000 per year toward the Lineworker Scholarship.
“I tell kids, especially those who are not planning to go to college, to consider working as a lineman. You make a good salary, and you can raise your family,” said Terrance, who notes that he has sometimes shown his paycheck to students at job fairs to get their attention.
Anyone interested can visit edison.com/eixlineworkerscholarship and fill out the application. Scholarship winners will attend Los Angeles Trade-Technical College’s six-month program to receive a Powerline Mechanic Certificate (additional classes may be needed for required prerequisites) and another program to obtain their Class A license. Tuition and needed tools will be covered by the scholarship. Applications will be accepted through May 17.
In addition to tuition and tools, the Edison scholarship will cover support services as needed, such as transportation and childcare, through an agreement with Brotherhood Crusade, a charitable nonprofit. Program graduates also qualify for a job at SCE. Successful applicants who pass SCE’s new employee assessments will be eligible to start as groundmen.
Edison International is using $1 million shareholder funds for the four-year pilot to provide scholarships of up to $25,000 to expand diversity in its lineworker pipeline. The initial focus of the program is on attracting Black participants.
“We are proud to launch the new Lineworker Scholarship program as part of our continuing commitment to increase our workforce diversity,” said Kevin Payne, SCE president and CEO. “SCE serves one of the most diverse areas in the nation and having our workforce reflect the communities we serve is a priority for us.”
“This scholarship is a great opportunity to work for a company that is committed to increasing diversity among its workforce, particularly among its craft lineworkers,” said Bola Ayorinde, SCE director, Northwest Distribution Construction & Maintenance.
Terrance emphasized the importance of safety when working as a lineworker, noting that safety equipment and detailed procedures are in place so the work can be done safely.
“We have a safety first mindset here at Edison,” he said. “We take the time to really own our safety so we can go home to our families.”
Like many lineworkers, Terrance enjoys being outdoors and can’t imagine a job behind a desk. One of the most memorable jobs he recalled was responding to a red-tailed hawk with a 6-foot wingspan that had its talons stuck in a fuse holder on the pole and was trying to escape.
While Animal Control watched, Terrance was able to free the hawk, which flew away immediately.
“I’ve had an awesome career at Edison from the time I was a groundman,” said Terrance. “The people have been awesome. I got to learn from a great group of guys and every day has been fun.”
For more information about Edison’s Lineworker Scholarship, visit edison.com/eixlineworkerscholarship.
Learn more about careers at Edison: edisoncareers.com.
Photo Credit: Julia Sanchez
Video Credit: Joseph Foulk, Ernesto Sanchez and Roberto Lazarte