North and South Tech students who participate in the Ameren Skilled Craft Education Program recently toured the company’s downtown headquarters. The visit in one of many opportunities these students are given as they learn about exciting and rewarding careers within our local utility industry.
The day at Ameren began with a kick-off chat and breakfast snacks hosted by Vanessa Jones, Ameren’s Manager of Human Resources (HR) Service and Employee Relations, followed by a generous welcome from Ameren President, Michael Moehn.
Students then toured the Emergency Operations Center, an impressive room which houses the full network of power supply in the Ameren service region. The center is used daily to isolate incidents and ensure limited impact to Ameren customers when outages arise. Students also learned about the various ways in which Ameren powers their plants using coal, solar, wind, and hydro energy. Tours continued with a visit to the roof to see 3 types of solar panels with which Ameren tests power supply as a consumer. Because using solar power can be challenging in the Midwest, Ameren uses these panels to gauge effective practices of solar power generation integration. Finally, students visited an Ameren substation near headquarters where they watched a demonstration of the gear and equipment used to keep Ameren workers safe.
During lunch, Jim Williams, Senior Director of Power Operations, shared his thoughts on why the program is so important to Ameren and took questions from the students about the job opportunities within the division. Senior HR Services Client Consultant Jessica Godwin said the purpose of the event is to help students see that the utility industry is an interesting and rapidly changing one. She feels the program’s mission is to give students a good feeling about how to pursue joining the Ameren workforce. Ms. Godwin assists the Skilled Craft Program along with fellow HR Consultant Curtrena Turner.
The visit concluded with a power line demonstration, a viewing of solar vehicles, a power transmission demonstration by Supervising Engineer Terry Grass, and a Q&A session with Ms. Jones, Gary Weisenborn, Director of Power Operations Technical Training, and Ray Simms, the Skilled Craft Education Program Coordinator.
The Ameren program was launched in 2007 as a partnership between the Power Generation division of Ameren and North and South Technical High Schools. Recognizing the excellent career and technical education (CTE) offerings at Tech and the growing need for skilled craft workers, Ameren mentors groups of students annually in the Electrical Trades, Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, Welding, Precision Machining, General Construction, and Carpentry majors to prepare them for potential employment. Students are recommended by their CTE instructor to participate in the Ameren program based on superior performance in the classroom.
The program immerses students into the many professions that make up the labor force of Ameren’s power plants. Students are guided by seasoned pros, get hands on experience with the tools and equipment used daily, are taught interviewing and resume writing skills, and are tutored for the Ameren pre-employment exam. In addition to the tour of Ameren HQ, students will also visit and tour one of the company’s power plants later in April.
Since the program began, 56 North and South Technical High School students have been hired by Ameren. The utility company offers generous tuition reimbursement, apprenticeship opportunities, and other opportunities for advancement. Entry-level laborers from Tech have earned an average of $50,000 per year.
To learn more about the opportunities provided to students at Tech through initiatives like the Skilled Craft Education Program , please call South Tech at 314-989-7400 or North Tech at 314-989-7600.