Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) has officially renewed a partnership with Brookdale Community College and Raritan Valley Community College to train local workers for high-wage, in-demand jobs in the utility industry.
The Power Systems Institute (PSI) is a two-year program that combines hands-on utility skills at JCP&L training facilities with technical course work at the college. Participating graduates earn an Associate of Applied Science degree with a focus on electric utility technology, and have an opportunity to work for JCP&L at the conclusion of the program.
PSI was first introduced at Brookdale in 2007, but discontinued in 2011 as a result of the economic downturn. After years of steady growth in the industry, the program been reinstated to train the next generation of utility line and substation workers.
Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno joined JCP&L President Jim Fakult, Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy and Raritan Valley President Dr. Michael J. McDonough at JCP&L’s Farmingdale training facility on Nov. 17 to kick off the renewed venture and celebrate a unique opportunity for area students.
“PSI is a program that allows you to get an associate degree after two years, a job after two years, and a living wage after two years. That’s a win-win for everyone, on every level,” Guadagno said.
Murphy joined McDonough in expressing excitement for the program, which will provide local workers with the skills, training and education necessary to join a growing career field and potentially earn as much as $50,000 a year directly out of college.
“As higher education becomes more important in people’s lives, we need more creative partnerships like this to allow young people to find those really high-demand careers and to help fuel our economy,” Murphy said. “This partnership with JCP&L had a very good start, and I am so happy to have it reactivated.”
According to Fakult, PSI has been instituted by JCP&L’s parent company, FirstEnergy Corp., in five different states since 2000. In that time, more than 1,100 linemen and substation electricians have graduated from the program, and 160 of those graduates are now working in New Jersey for JCP&L.
A number of those graduates were on hand during the event to talk about their experience in the PSI program, including three who graduated from Brookdale.
JCP&L substation professional and Brookdale graduate Robert Donato said he decided to enroll in the program in 2010 to work toward a more promising career.
“I was in a career where I really didn’t have a lot of room for advancement,” Donato said. “This just seemed like a rare opportunity for me to get a college degree and start a really great career with a lot of room to grow. And it was. It totally opened the door for me.”
Also in attendance were Patricia Gallo, Brookdale’s Dean of Business and Technology; state Senators Kip Bateman and Robert Singer; New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Commissioner Joseph Fiordaliso; Monmouth County Freeholder Serena DiMaso; and Ed Stroup, business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, Local 1289, which represents the utility workers at JCP&L.
PSI will officially kick off in Fall 2015. Program openings are limited, and applications will be assessed through a competitive, multi-step process. An orientation for prospective students will be held at Brookdale on Weds., January 28 from 6-8 p.m. More information is available at www.fisrtenergycorp.com/psi or by calling 800-829-6801.
For more photos of the event, click here.