Bismarck State College (BSC) and the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) will celebrate 50 years of partnership and renew their commitment to training lineworkers across the region in a joint “Investing in Our Future” event on Thursday, May 6, at 1 p.m. The event marks the next chapter in this five-decade-long partnership by unveiling plans for the new Lineworker Training Center.
NDAREC, along with North Dakota’s electric cooperatives, is upgrading the current BSC Lineworker training facility on NDAREC’s grounds, located at 3201 Nygren Drive N.W. in Mandan. Since 1970, BSC has trained 1,700 graduates of the lineworker program at the Mandan facility. The new, 26,294-square-foot, four-seasons Lineworker Training Center will be a one-of-a-kind, innovative facility providing enhanced, year-round training for the electric industry workforce. NDAREC has secured a $4-million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration for the project, which will be matched by $1 million in local investment from North Dakota’s electric cooperatives.
“Fifty years ago, North Dakota’s electric cooperatives answered the call to meet the needs of a growing electric industry by partnering with BSC to develop a premier lineworker training program,” said Josh Kramer, NDAREC executive vice president and general manager. “Now is the time to once again invest in the future of this critical trade.”
As North Dakota’s polytechnic institution, BSC is a world leader in energy industry education and training. The BSC Lineworker program is the only one of its kind in North Dakota. Lineworker students receive intense, hands-on instruction in all facets of powerline construction, equipment operation and maintenance. Study includes classroom instruction, indoor and outdoor lab work, and courses to prepare students for North Dakota’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) exam. Graduates of the BSC Lineworker program are workforce-ready and report 90% placement rates, with hourly earnings up to $40.
“Lineworkers keep homes powered and the lights on in our community. They are essential workers. It’s important that we invest in training this crucial workforce, and when industry partners such as NDAREC come alongside BSC like this, we can provide the highest quality hands-on, experiential, workforce training,” said BSC President Doug Jensen. “As a polytechnic institution, this is a top priority for BSC.”
The joint “Investing in Our Future” event will include remarks from BSC, NDAREC and the offices of Gov. Doug Burgum and North Dakota’s congressional delegation, with lineworker training demonstrations by current BSC students.