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Submitted by Director of Apprenticeship in Oklahoma Cynthia McClain & Edmond Electric's Michelle Trimberger

Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma (MESO) and the City of Edmond’s electric utility, Edmond Electric, teamed up to bring the 2012 Municipal Lineworkers’ Rodeo to Edmond, Oklahoma on October 19, 2012.  The Rodeo is an opportunity for Lineworkers to compete to show their skills and knowledge through a series of events.

For the 3rd year in a row, MESO held the Rodeo in Edmond, Oklahoma at the Edmond Electric Lineworker Training Field, which proved to be an excellent venue for the event.  MESO and Edmond Electric partnered to make the Rodeo a big success.  So successful in fact, that the American Public Power Association announced that Edmond Electric will host the National Municipal Lineworkers’ Rodeo in 2014.  

MESO is an association of municipally-owned electric utilities that provide electric services to over 400,000 residents. Currently, 63 cities offer retail electric utility services in Oklahoma.  MESO provides a variety of services to its member-city workers, including electric line apprenticeship, job training and safety, supervisory training, on-site customer service and administration training, drug testing to meet federal mandates, and consultation on policy issues such as terms and conditions of electric service or rate policy.

MESO also provides administration services to the Municipal Gas Systems of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Gas Association thereby sharing the roles of energy efficiency with natural gas operations statewide.  Currently, there are 12 MESO partnered municipalities which sponsor Registered Apprenticeship programs in the occupation of Line Maintainer. 

Traditionally, the lineworkers’ rodeo begins with a flag raising ceremony.  The event is broken into several categories, including Journeyman events, Apprentice events, a Mutual Aid event, and Team event.  Both Journeyman and Apprentice events include a “hurt-man rescue event”, which simulates rescuing a 175 pound mannequin from a utility pole and starting CPR within four minutes.  The Mutual Aid event has become very popular with the competitors.  Names are drawn from each city, two journeyman and one apprentice, to form a team and compete in the event.  Because many cities within the State of Oklahoma have “mutual aid agreements” to offer assistance during catastrophic events, it provides lineworkers’ the opportunity to work with fellow lineman they may be called upon to serve with, or to help some day.  

At the conclusion of the rodeo, MESO provided unique trophies hand made by Edmond Supervisor Shannon Dodd, and a luncheon for attendees. 

If you would like more information on the MESO Municipal Lineworkers’ Rodeo, feel free to contact Michelle Trimberger at

For more media coverage of the MESO Municipal Lineworkers’ Rodeo, visit the Stillwater News Press

Happy New Year to our Registered Apprenticeship community.  As we prepare for an exciting 2013, there is much to be excited about.  Looking back at 2012, the Registered Apprenticeship (RA) system reached an important milestone, the RA model continued to expand into non-traditional industries, and recent news tells us that traditional industries continue to use RA to provide opportunities to America’s workers.

In August of 2012 the RA system celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the National Apprenticeship Act.  We covered the OutEducate, OutBuild, OutInnovate Education and Action Summit in Commemoration of the National Apprenticeship Act signing here on the Community of Practice and shared information on 71 programs from throughout the country recognized during the event as Trailblazer and Innovator programs.  Each program received a Certificate of Recognition presented by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Office of Apprenticeship Administrator John V. Ladd.

Also in August, we announced the issuance of an ‘Earnings Study’ conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. The study found that Individuals who complete an RA program will earn substantially higher wages over their lifetime.  The study, An Effectiveness Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis of Registered Apprenticeship in 10 States, found that over a career of 36 years, participants who completed an RA program had average earnings gains of nearly a quarter million dollars ($240,037, increasing to $301,533 with employer benefits added) compared to nonparticipants.  

As 2012 came to a close we also highlighted an NBC news piece written by Christopher Connell with the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit news organization that is focused on producing in-depth education journalism (according to their Web site’s “About Us” section).  The article focuses on the increasingly common partnerships RA programs develop with their post-secondary education counterparts, often community colleges, to provide apprentices with not only skills training and career preparation, but also the opportunity to earn a degree.  The article includes examples from our Trailblazer and Innovator-recognized programs, including the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Washington), and The Apprentice School (Virginia).  The piece also includes quotes from Senator Patty Murray’s remarks during this summer’s above-mentioned Registered Apprenticeship Education and Action Summit.  It’s a great piece that also highlights the opportunities RA is offering workers from all walks of life, including the inspirational story of female apprentice Jessica Bush, a Local 86 Ironworkers’ apprenticeship participant.  For more on the article, click here:  Economic reality marries age-old idea -- apprenticeships -- with college”.

2012 was a year of innovation, expansion into new industries, and a re-focused awareness of the opportunities traditional industries continue to provide U.S. workers.  We look forward to working with our partners and stakeholders to make 2013 another great year to spread the word on the advantages RA offers to learn a skill and build a career.  We hope you continue to follow us here on the Community of Practice as we try to highlight how Registered Apprenticeship is making a difference in the lives of U.S. workers.    

For our next installment of the Trailblazer and Innovator Spotlight series, we are highlighting the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union #1 and the Central Illinois’ Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA).  The two are working together to provide apprenticeship opportunities to underrepresented populations through a Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC)

The JATC is working with Community-Based and Faith-Based organizations, and area schools to promote apprenticeship opportunities to underrepresented populations through “sample tests” that allow individuals to self-assess their strengths and weaknesses.  The sample test empowers potential applicants to work on areas of their knowledge that may need additional focus to prepare for entrance into a Registered Apprenticeship program. 

Additionally, the Local continually evaluates industry needs to identify areas of focus to ensure area employers are assured that journeyworkers who have completed the apprenticeship are trained for the ever-changing needs of the industry.  The program keeps an eye to the future to ensure training practices and strategies are innovative and able to adapt to meet employers’ needs.  The Sheet Metal Workers Joint Apprenticeship is committed to ensuring a dependable source of skilled, versatile sheet metal workers to its cooperating employers. 

The JATC has also partnered with Tri-County Construction Labor Management Council (TRICON) whose focus is workforce development, public relations, safety, and green building.  TRICON has brought in several students through an introductory work-based learning session to demonstrate what Sheet Metal Workers do.  The JATC also teams with Illinois Central College to provide related instruction as part of the Highway Construction Careers Training Program.

Recently, the Sheet Metal Workers Local 1 / SMACNA JATC efforts were recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) as a Trailblazer and Innovator program.  As part of the USDOL’s August 1, 2012 Registered Apprenticeship Education and Action Summit in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the signing of the National Apprenticeship Act, program representatives were presented with a Trailblazer and Innovator Recognition Certificate presented by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Administrator of Apprenticeship John V. Ladd.

“As we work to prepare future Sheet Metal Workers for the demands of our industry employers, the rigors of the Registered Apprenticeship model ensures we are providing a highly skilled workforce,” said Bill Comstock, Sheet Metal Workers Local 1 Business Manager.

For more on the Sheet Metal Workers Local # 1, please visit

For more on SMACNA, please visit the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association at

The Shenandoah Valley Energy Partnership (SVEP) began as a collaborative effort to address emerging workforce development needs in the green energy sector and related industries.  In 2010, the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Investment Board, Inc. saw an opportunity to align area efforts to train workers for the growing green industry sector and approached the Registered Apprenticeship office about joining the SVEP.  Today, hundreds of apprentices are being trained in multiple areas related to green energy.  Training opportunities exist in the areas of green technology manufacturing, energy efficient processes, technical support for renewable energies such as wind turbine and solar/photovoltaics, green-related construction trades, and sustainable construction and retrofitting.

Funded jointly by grant funds awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor and existing regional resources, the program aims to operate beyond the life of grant funding to continue preparing Virginia’s Shenandoah-area workers for green energy careers.  It’s truly a collaborative effort with several regional partners, including Lord Fairfax Community College, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, Blue Ridge Community College, Jackson River Technical Center, Valley Vocational Technical Center, Massanutten Technical Center, Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Regional & Local Economic Development, and business partners from the region.   

In 2010, as part of an announcement of grant funding to support the initiative, Virginia Senator (D-VA) Mark Warner spoke on the importance of this effort. 

“The formation of the Shenandoah Valley Energy Partnership is exactly the kind of forward-looking collaboration we need to help jump-start our economy and create next-generation jobs in the clean energy field,” said Senator Warner. “This investment in training workers for new green energy represents an exciting opportunity for the entire Valley region.”

In August of 2012 the SVEP was recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Secretary of Labor’s Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship as a Trailblazer and Innovator Registered Apprenticeship program, one of 71 programs from throughout the country highlighted for their embodiment of the 21st Century Vision for Registered Apprenticeship.  During the Department’s August 1, National Education and Action Summit in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the signing of the National Apprenticeship Act, SVEP Project Director Sharon Johnson was presented with a Certificate of Recognition as a Trailblazer and Innovator program by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Administrator of Apprenticeship John V. Ladd.

Ms. Johnson remarked on the benefits of the SVEP collaboration.

“The Shenandoah Valley region is poised to be a leader in the growth of green energy-related industries because of the aligned efforts of our Workforce Investment Board, Registered Apprenticeship, regional employers, and area economic development and education partners,” said Ms. Johnson.  “The training options our region’s workers have access to include excellent apprenticeship opportunities and the chance to prepare for well-paying careers as the green energy sector continues to expand.”

Read the Shenandoah Valley Energy Partnership Trailblazer and Innovator Fact Sheet for more on the partnership.  Also, to learn more about the Registered Apprenticeship opportunities available through the SVEP, be sure to visit  


We are proud to announce that the video used  to kick-off our August 1, "OutEducate OutBuild OutInnovate" Education and Action Summit in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the signing of the National Apprenticeship Act was recently recognized as a MARCOM Gold Medal Winner in the Video/Film/Government category.  MARCOM Awards, administered by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, honor excellence and recognize the creativity, and hard work of marketing and communication professionals. 

The OutEducate OutBuild OutInnovate video was a genuine collaboration between our Office of Apprenticeship, our Registered Apprenticeship sponsors and our highly talented Office of Public Affairs’ Video Production unit.  The high quality work by the video production unit highlights the importance the U.S. Department of Labor places on helping create awareness about the proud history, and the impact Registered Apprenticeship can have on industry and its workers.  We shared the video previously as part of our Registered Apprenticeship 75th Anniversary wrap up, but in light of the recognition it has received, we wanted to ensure it got the renewed attention it deserves.  Congratulations to everyone who contributed to this great video highlighting 75 years of the National Apprenticeship Act.