By Rhea Riley
Milwaukee Public Schools students who’ve trained with We Energies were visited by Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes for a demonstration Tuesday morning.
The demonstration was a part of an internship and apprenticeship program created through a partnership between We Energies and the MPS.
During the demonstration, students showed Lt. Gov. Barnes various procedures and practices used in everyday field work.
“When people have these career pathways, in high school, it helps them because they have something to look forward to,” said Lt. Gov. Barnes. “I’m excited about the opportunities that have been presented today and I’m hoping that we can work to expand these programs.”
The partnership is comprised of two programs offered to juniors and seniors at MPS schools. The first being the Electric Operations Internship. This paid internship allows 16 students to pair with experienced electrical staff at We Energies. Throughout the school year, the students partake in training and safety education. In the summer, they’re able to use their new skills and work alongside their mentors on local jobs in Milwaukee for a hands-on learning experience.
The second is the Design Apprenticeship, which is a paid two-year program where students explore various STEM career opportunities. By the end of the program, students will have received 900 hours of training and education and college credit to use towards continued education at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
This type of program can be essential for students who are interested in a trade and desire an educational transition between school and a pursuing a career.
According to We Energies President Tom Metcalfe, this hands-on educational experience comes at a perfect time as current We Energies employees begin to cycle out.
“We are very fortunate [to] have new apprentices coming up through the ranks, but we also have an ageing demographic,” said Metcalfe. “We have quite a few employees who are reaching their 30-35 years of tenure and are getting ready to retire. So, that makes this even more important that we get these new apprentices up and trained and doing the jobs that they are currently doing.”
Current apprentice Khari Pleas-Carnie is ready to fill these roles and has the experience to do so. The Bradley Tech high school senior is a part of a family with years of utility and electrical experience. Pleas-Carnie grandfather is a welder and plumber, and his father is an electrician that has provided him with work experience since the age of 12.
“I’m a hands-on learner,” said Pleas-Carnie. “I like to do more hands-on trades.”
Through the apprenticeship Pleas-Carnie has been able to experience the exciting side of working in the utility industry. This past summer, Pleas-Carnie was sent on a job with a fellow apprentice to dismantle and replace a 70-foot pole. The pole was snapped due to a collision with a semi-truck, but the replacement was essential due to the power source it was holding.
Pleas-Carnie hopes to continue his education after high school at MATC, and then pursue a full-time job with We Energies.