A Powerful Partnership: Energy Jobs and Apprenticeships

Posted November 11, 2021

Energy Industry Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships: They’re a time-tested, highly effective and increasingly popular way to train workers, but when discussing future career plans with kids, parents seldom think to include them in the conversation. That may soon be changing!

Apprenticeships Are Gaining Ground

Midwest Energy has been training apprentices since the mid-’70s. It’s a model that’s served us well as we develop young individuals into qualified journeymen. MWE targets Kansans who want to begin training for a stable and successful career that offers good wages and an attractive benefits package, along with the opportunity to stay close to home and family. 

And it’s not just us: Apprenticeships are increasingly utilized as a training tool by the energy industry as a whole, which faces looming talent shortages and skills gaps as the country’s energy infrastructure grows and modernizes. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “In 2020, there were 12,022 registered apprentices in the energy industry, almost doubling over the past nine years.” 

MWE currently offers apprenticeships for the following positions:

  • Electric lineman 
  • Natural gas worker/welder 
  • Electric meter technician
  • Gas meter technician
  • Substation construction and maintenance worker
  • Relay communication worker

There is a specific syllabus and group of training modules for each position. Our apprenticeship programs consist of either a three-year program that requires 6,000 hours of documented training or a four-year program for the lineman position, which requires 8,000 hours and is a State of Kansas Registered Apprenticeship Program.

A Growing Solution for Employers

Our apprenticeship programs allow us to train employees to safely perform industry-related work, as well as the actual job duties the employee will have, based on our system design. The USDOL encourages employers in the energy industry to consider apprenticeships because they:

  • Allow seasoned workers to pass their knowledge and hard-earned expertise to new employees
  • Enable a company to vet employees and instill its culture prior to hiring
  • Improve productivity and profitability 
  • Reduce turnover and retain top talent
  • Demonstrate an investment in the community

Apprenticeships ‘Work’ for Employees, Too

One of the best things about the model is that it benefits our young apprentices as well, so everyone feels good about the process. For high school graduates who want to get a head start on their careers and begin earning right off the bat, apprenticeships allow them to be paid as they train. Many of our rural communities’ high school graduates choose to stick around and help with the duties of the family farm or simply prefer small town life, and we’re proud to provide them with career opportunities in their hometown.

Recruitment through career fairs, job shadowing opportunities and visits with local middle and high schools has generated lots of interest in the utility sector among young people, prompting local young talent to attend a technical or community college and come to us for summer intern positions and often full-time employment. This is a great way to connect MWE and workers who are serious about the industry, because they’ve invested time and money in the trade. 

Add Apprenticeships to Your Career Conversations 

Apprenticeships are becoming more common in many industries — not just energy! Hospitality, telecommunications, construction, cybersecurity and more are tuning in to the fact that apprenticeships can jump start successful careers. I encourage you and your child to learn more about the programs in the state of Kansas and view available opportunities on the KANSASWORKS website and at Apprenticeship.gov.


Michael Stremel, Midwest Energy Inc
Michael Stremel is the training manager for Midwest Energy Inc., a customer-owned electric and natural gas cooperative serving 93,000 customers in 40 counties throughout central and northwestern Kansas. Having gone through the lineman apprenticeship program with his company early in his career, Michael knows firsthand the value of such programs. He’s a big proponent of apprenticeships, having trained approximately 125 new employees in this style since 2007. Michael is part of several advisory boards for technical trade schools in Kansas and hopes more students and parents will consider technical training at trade schools, community colleges and universities — as well as with employers who offer apprenticeship programs — when considering possible career paths.