Lineworker Scholarship Program Expands to Increase Diversity
Edison International funding for job training is now available for Black, Asian Pacific Islander, Native American and female applicants.
When Paul Chhay puts on his hard hat each day, he is reminded of the lineman who took the time to introduce him to a long, rewarding career. Chhay had been a meter reader at Southern California Edison for six months when he became intrigued about how linemen help keep the lights on.
Lineman Craig Blair took Chhay to SCE’s pole yard behind the Westminster Service Center and showed him how to climb poles. That’s when Chhay knew he had found his calling. “Craig took the time to show me the ropes. I didn’t have a hard hat, so he let me use his,” Chhay said. “After two weeks of training, he told me to keep the hard hat. That’s the one I still wear to this day.”
Chhay says he has encountered few Asian Pacific Islanders in this line of work. “It’s a trade that wasn’t really shown to us growing up in our culture. It’s usually passed on by relatives, like a father, grandfather or uncle,” said Chhay, who is Cambodian American. He hopes that through Edison International’s Lineworker Scholarship, more diverse candidates will pursue a career at SCE.
“If you like to work in the elements, work outdoors and feel a sense of pride in your work, I highly recommend giving it a shot,” he said.
Edison International is now accepting applications for the 2023 Lineworker Scholarship Program, in partnership with IBEW Local 47, to provide opportunities for people from underrepresented communities. The program launched in 2021, focusing on attracting Black participants for the first two years. So far, five scholarship recipients have been hired by SCE as groundmen. This year, the focus has been expanded to attract Asian Pacific Islander, Native American or female candidates.
“We are inspired by what our scholars have accomplished and proud that some of them have already been hired at Southern California Edison,” said Heather Rivard, SCE’s senior vice president of Transmission & Distribution. “Expanding the eligibility criteria will continue to increase representation in the lineworker skilled trade and build a workforce that reflects the communities and companies we serve.”
Nicole Taylor was working in a chiropractor’s office in El Segundo while participating in an apprenticeship readiness program, which is how she learned about the Edison scholarship. Today, Taylor is a lineworker scholarship recipient attending the Powerline Mechanic Training course at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College.
“There are mental barriers you have to go through during training. The encouragement and camaraderie through group climbing sessions or a simple group text has been helpful,” she said.
The scholarship program is funded by Edison International shareholders and IBEW Local 47, awarding up to $25,000 per recipient. The scholarship program provides tuition, tools and support services needed to complete required training at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. Program graduates will be eligible to qualify for a job at SCE as a groundman.
“My advice to women considering applying is to ensure your body strength is on point. Get in shape, both mentally and physically,” said Taylor. “At the end of the day, when I take off my pole climbing gaffs, I think it is getting easier every time. There is fear, yet it can be conquered.”
To apply and obtain additional eligibility information, visit edison.com/lineworkerscholarship. The deadline to apply is May 5.