Edgecombe-Martin County EMC’s Student Career Development

Concern for community is one of the seven cooperative principles. There is an important role for co-ops to play in their communities when it comes to workforce development. In addition to providing power to approximately 11,000 meters, Edgecombe-Martin County EMC also serves our communities by giving educators and schools the resources they need to provide students of all ages the educational tools to help them succeed in our line of work.
The comfort of knowing we have solid jobs, with competitive pay and benefits, is a long-term commitment. Our high school students need to see what our community offers. Edgecombe-Martin County EMC recently completed a series of events for high school students across our service territory. In partnership with area schools, the camps were hosted on April 16–18th.  Participants from multiple high schools were given the opportunity to learn firsthand about potential careers in the electric utility industry.  
It’s more than a career day at a local high school, with co-op employees sitting at a table handing out literature. Instead, Edgecombe-Martin County EMC brought groups of students to our office with a training field to engage them in the roles, responsibilities, and, above all, the culture of electric utility line technicians. We must remain connected and work closely with our community partners to develop a local pool of talent that can meet the current and future needs of our membership. Clearly, the students all enjoy learning about their co-op, the electric utility industry, and the unique aspects of the line technician’s daily responsibilities.
There’s a dual purpose for the co-op, too. Line crews across the country are aging, and it’s essential to prepare their replacements. Labor stats indicate the demand for line technician’s is expected to grow by 6 percent through 2031. Realizing this career choice has not been emphasized to generations of students, we’re filling that need. It’s evident by the way most students respond to the program that we’re showing them something they’ve never considered before.
We’re thankful to the many school systems that worked with us over the last few months to encourage students to attend our camp — these are exactly the kinds of community partnerships that will benefit our young people, and expand their potential career options. If students enjoy being outdoors, a line technician career should be strongly considered. Make no mistake, it is hard work; but it can be a very rewarding and fulfilling livelihood.
Meeting future employment needs related to recruitment, development, and retention of employees will prove beneficial for the communities we serve by providing future jobs for individuals that call our area home. Investing in programs like these is yet another example of how we work to do just that.
Focusing on workforce development in the communities we serve is key to the economic success to all of North Carolina. Therefore, if we can inspire just one child to realize a dream, it’s all worth it.

Lisa Tolson
Lisa Tolson