August 18, 2021
Joining Starkville Utilities is a celebrated accomplishment for new employees that opens the door to a range of career-building opportunities fueled by a commitment to anticipate and proactively address customer needs.
“Our employees are among the most highly trained and credentialed of any industry,” said Terry Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities. “We invest in our employees to make sure they have the skills required to safely perform their jobs and learn new technologies. Continuous training and learning support our Future FOCUS initiative to provide safe, reliable and affordable utilities for customers now and for years to come.”
Because safety is the top priority, Starkville Utilities’ training programs focus primarily on ensuring that employees know how to protect themselves and others while performing their duties. That’s one reason it takes six years for apprentices to become linemen.
Starkville Utilities works closely with community colleges and other training providers to develop line worker training programs that prepare apprentices to progress through multiple levels as they the build the skills and knowledge required to safely operate Starkville’s electrical distribution system.
Apprentice training consists of offsite classroom instruction, labs and tests, as well as on-the-job training and coaching provided by Starkville Utilities’ senior crew members. At the end, apprentices must pass a comprehensive exam to become certified linemen.
“Part of a senior lineman’s responsibility is coaching so that apprentices get hands-on experience with supervision,” Kemp said. “The transfer of knowledge and information that takes place on the job is an important part of reinforcing safe work habits, teamwork, communication and a questioning attitude.”
A similar rigor is involved in preparing employees to safely operate Starkville Utilities’ water treatment and water production processes to ensure they meet all safety, health and environmental regulations. New employees typically start in maintenance and advance to operator positions after acquiring the necessary skills and equipment certifications.
Most job families at Starkville Utilities involve industry-specific certifications that are geared toward utility professionals, including engineers, accountants, human resources personnel, and metering and billing specialists. In an industry that’s constantly being transformed by new technologies, continuous learning and training are essential workforce attributes.
“Professional development is more than an individual journey — it’s part of building a team that is second to none in providing quality utility services,” Kemp said. “The utility business is complex and changing constantly, and that means we must always look for new technologies and resources that can benefit our customers and our community. That’s why Starkville Utilities relies on employees who are experts as well as leaders.”
Starkville Utilities is a public utility serving 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville, Mississippi as well as Mississippi State University. Its mission is to supply safe, reliable, and cost-effective electric and water service of superior quality and value that improves the lives of its customers.