Linemen for the County

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from an article that was originally published by City Journal on April 4, 2024. It is crossposted here with permission.

When people hear “lineman,” they think football. At least that’s the reaction Keith Henderson receives when he teaches Philadelphia schoolchildren about jobs in the skilled trades. Henderson, who leads PECO Energy Company’s Workforce Development Program, wants to give inner-city kids hope through the trades.

PECO, an Exelon Corporation affiliate, provides millions in Philadelphia with electricity. But someone has to maintain the power lines, and not many people have the right skillset. That’s where PECO steps in, with its Helper Pre-Apprenticeship Program. PECO is one of a growing number of companies getting more involved with training future employees in the skills they need to work in the skilled trades. Apprenticeships have grown in popularity. The Department of Labor has recorded a 64 percent growth in registered apprenticeships since 2012.

PECO’s pre-apprenticeship program, now in its third year, introduces future tradesmen to the world of aerial line, gas, and underground mechanics. Pre-apprenticeships get students familiar with various jobs before they commit to one field. Once students complete the pre-apprenticeship program—which 83 percent do, according to Henderson—they can move on to an actual apprenticeship. PECO apprenticeships last about 42 months.

 Photo by Suprachai — Adobe Stock — Asset ID#: 382987198


  • Neetu Arnold

    Neetu Arnold is a senior research associate at the National Association of Scholars. Follow her on Twitter @neetu_arnold.

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