Recognized Skill Standards
September 13, 2019
The Transmission Line Worker competency-based occupational framework was submitted for skill standards recognition by Energy Partners Coalition for Education (EPCE), which participated in the frameworks’ development. EPCE is composed of over 2,500 energy members across the nation representing private, public, and government-owned utilities; energy contractors and suppliers; professional associations; and unions working together to educate and train the energy workforce.
The occupational framework was developed in February 2018, facilitated by the Urban Institute under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The grant funded an initiative to identify the content (industry competencies) and worker qualifications required to perform in various occupations. The Transmission Line Worker framework meets the definition and recognition criteria for Texas skill standards. The DOL grant required a rigorous development and validation process that adhered to standard job analysis methodology, including convening industry subject matter experts to identify the work-oriented information and validation by a wider range of practitioners in the occupation.
The Transmission Line Worker framework is composed of the following six job functions: 1) prepares for work at job site with proper tools and equipment and a work plan that is sound, clearly communicated, and employs safety precautions; 2) abides by workplace health and safety rules, regulations, policies and best practices in carrying out job duties; 3) installs electrical systems and related structures; 4) constructs, maintains, and repairs overhead and underground distribution assets; 5) operates, maintains, and repairs distribution and transmission systems; and 6) finds and repairs power outages and performs emergency repairs.
Comparing Competency-Based Occupational Frameworks to Texas Skill Standards
The competency-based occupational frameworks have a different format and nomenclature than skill standards recognized in Texas. But the content is the same, and the elements that constitute the frameworks are equivalent to the elements that constitute skill standards. Skill standards elements are composed of work-oriented information, describing the critical work functions, the key activities that make up those functions, and the performance criteria or proficiency level to which the activities must be performed. The occupational frameworks are also composed of these work-oriented elements, called job functions, competencies, and performance criteria, respectively.
Skill standards are also composed of worker-oriented information, which specifies the skills and knowledge required of the worker to perform the work. The worker-oriented elements include:
- Academic knowledge and skills – the level, indicated by a numerical rating, of reading, writing, math, and science required to perform each critical work function.
- Employability knowledge and skills – the level (numerical rating) of “soft” or transferable skills, common to all occupations, required to perform each critical work function.
- Occupational skills, knowledge and conditions – the technical skills and knowledge that are occupation-specific, and the tools, resources, and equipment, required to perform each key activity.
The occupational frameworks are composed of the same worker-oriented elements. The frameworks’ cross-cutting competencies are the equivalent of both the academic and the employability knowledge and skills. The level of each competency is also rated. However, the rating applies to the level of each competency required to perform all the functions across the occupation rather than each work function, as in skill standards. Definitions of the cross-cutting competencies can be found on DOL’s Competency Model Clearinghouse website. The scoring system used to evaluate the level of competency required in each cross cutting skill can be found on the Lumina Foundation’s Connecting Credentials Framework website. For these website links, see the Cross-Cutting Competencies section of each occupational framework.
In the occupational framework, the equivalent to the standards’ occupational knowledge and skills is called related technical instruction. That element includes occupation-specific knowledge and skills, and the tools and technologies required to perform each job function rather than each key activity, as with skill standards.
For a side-by-side comparison of the equivalent elements, see the Skill Standards to Occupational Equivalencies link on the Texas skill standards repository web page.
Importance to Texas
Transmission line workers are employed by or on behalf of public utilities companies and engineering contracting firms and in industries requiring a service to be transmitted through a network of cables. Line workers install, remove, maintain, and repair sub-transmission and distribution lines and associated equipment and facilities, as well as maintain safety for the public and for work crews during repair and construction work. Line workers must effectively execute many tasks to help deliver electrical power from generating stations into homes, businesses, factories, and other facilities.
According to Texas Workforce Commission data, transmission line workers are projected to grow 18.5 percent by the year 2026, and employ more than 12,500 Texas workers. The median annual wage in 2017, the latest data available, was $55,745.
On September 13, 2019, the Transmission Line Worker competency-based occupational framework was recognized as skill standards in accordance with the Guidelines for the Development, Recognition and Usage of Skill Standards.