230+ MetroPower apprentices upskilled by Penn Foster
80+ Master Journeymen credentialed using online related technical instruction
For decades, MetroPower has been a leading electrical contractor in the southeastern United States, serving clients in the industrial, healthcare, federal, and premier commercial markets. Having set significant growth goals for the business, MetroPower leadership recognized early on the need to position their workforce for the future. With a focus on building a culture of lifelong learning for their 14,000+ employees, they formalized their investment in employee skill development and career advancement in 2009 and created a Workforce Development Department with Tony Varamo at the helm.
Through this department, Tony oversees all recruitment, apprenticeship, and continuing education efforts for MetroPower, helping the business grow by empowering employees with new skills and credentials. These efforts also include managing and growing their four-year electrical apprenticeship program featuring custom online content from Penn Foster.
The 8,000-hour electrical apprenticeship program, which delivers 600+ hours of customized related technical instruction (RTI) from Penn Foster, is a requirement for all MetroPower employees and a fundamental piece of MetroPower’s commitment to developing future industry leaders. According to Varamo, it’s also a way for the company to level the playing field by investing in all of their apprentices, no matter their experience level.
“The Penn Foster program allows us the flexibility to give those individuals that couldn't go to school the opportunity to go through an apprenticeship program,” Varamo said. “Once our apprentices finish the program and we are able to change their title status, it’s just a huge sense of accomplishment for them.”
Penn Foster’s online delivery of the RTI also enables apprentices the ultimate flexibility to earn while they learn and complete studies from job sites during non-work hours. And although those employees are offsite, Varamo and the Workforce Development team have full access to their apprentices’ progression and exam completion data through Penn Foster’s administrator portal.
“We have travel workers that often travel to other cities and states for work, but Penn Foster makes it very easy for our apprentices to move through the modules, no matter where they’re at,” said Jessica Miller, Apprenticeship Program Manager at MetroPower.
Since the launch of the partnership, Varamo has worked closely with Penn Foster to evolve the apprenticeship’s online instruction as MetroPower’s technology and business needs changed and the demand for new skillsets arose.
A training program that delivers real results
To date, more than 230 MetroPower apprentices have been upskilled through the Penn Foster program, and an additional 40+ apprentices are currently enrolled. The business benefits of developing their electricians in-house, MetroPower reaps the business benefit of journeymen being able to hit the ground running immediately upon earning their certifictation. To this point, MetroPower has been able to develop over 80 Journeymen from within instead of recruiting externally. MetroPower’s investment in their employees has also not gone unnoticed by their clients, who recognize the quality of their workforce as a reflection of the training and opportunities provided by MetroPower.
“I remember a branch manager in southern Georgia saying to us, ‘You’ve got this [brick-and-mortar] program, but what about the guys that can't travel because we’ve got them working 12-hour shifts?’” Varamo recounted. “And I said to them, ‘Well, we have this Penn Foster program, which they can do in the hotel at night and at their leisure.’ It’s a selling feature to our customers because it says, ‘Wow, this company really does care about its people.’”
Like any successful business, MetroPower continues to adapt its services – and the skills of its workforce – for the jobs of the future. Furthermore, their Workforce Development Department laid the groundwork for many other electrical contractors establishing robust apprenticeships and building their own lifelong learning programs. By investing in building the skills of their employees, MetroPower is investing in the future of the electrical construction and services industry.
“I tout that the Penn Foster program is a springboard for our guys to get NICET certifications or other credentials that they will need and can use in their career. It’s a platform from which they can build upon.”