Fifteen years ago, a partnership between UWUA Local 369, Bunker Hill Community College and Eversource Energy in Boston helped to build a talent pipeline for the company’s rapidly retiring workforce. Just two years ago, the Electric Power Utility Technology (EPUT) Program hit the refresh button expanding recruiting to minorities and women and bolstering academic coaching and cohort support efforts. The program — according to students who found careers in the utility sector as a result — was life changing.
One of the participants, Luis Martinez who graduated earlier this year found his second chance through EPUT. He was homeless at one point and was previously kicked out of Bunker Hill Community College.
“I kept fighting and fighting to move one step forward but happened to move 10 steps back. I fought hard to get a chance to sit and tell somebody I could do better,” said Martinez. “That chance finally came in the form of EPUT. It has made me the b
est version of myself, maintaining a 3.5 GPA, a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and a Student Ambassador.”
According to Marion Jones, who leads technical training and workforce development programs at Eversource, the company offers tuition assistance for the two-year associate’s degree program. Students have a chance to get a sense of what their typical workday will look like by spending one day a week at the Eversource lab. Students also receive PPE, fire retardant clothing, first-aid/CPR and OSHA training.
Dilce Barros, who also graduated this year, says she’s not sure where she would be without the EPUT program. “I was a little bit lost,” said Barros. “I knew I wanted to go back to school. I’m very thankful a friend told me about this program. I’m so lucky, otherwise I might still be looking for a path to take.”
Every fall the program partners with high schools to spotlight a path forward for females in trade positions specifically. The events are an opportunity for students to hear more about the EPUT program from women in the gas and electric utility sectors.
According to Local 369 President Craig Pinkham, “For those who have gone through the EPUT program, it has clearly changed the trajectory of these young people’s lives. Many graduated high school without a clear plan for what’s next. The training and employment opportunities provided through EPUT allowed them to see the possibility within themselves. We’re glad to have these individuals as our UWUA sisters and brothers.”