The Feeney brothers, Greg and Brendan, who operate a private utility contractor company in Dorchester, have been investing in their work force through a training program conducted at Bunker Hill Community College. The two-year course, which trains students in every aspect on the gas industry, will graduate its first class this month.
The Gas Utility Technology (GUT) Degree Option Program gives graduates “more than just a piece of paper,” said Bill Egan, director of support services at Feeney Brothers Utility Services. “The program aims to give students all the tools they need in order to be safe and effective in the field. Our expectation, upon completion of these courses, is that graduates will be able to successfully complete gas specific performance skills and demonstrate the ability to work in teams to accomplish our objectives.”
Egan said that Feeney Brothers helped to create a GUT program at Bunker Hill to complement its existing electrical utility program. Egan says the program at Bunker Hill is “truly a gateway to well paying jobs” in the gas utility industry. The vocational program incorporates paid internships during school breaks that allow for students to gain hands on experience and work with other professionals in the gas utility industry.
One of the three students who will graduate from the program this year, 19-year-old Andrew Letendre, said that he was originally interested in the electrical utility program. After learning more about the gas industry, he decided that GUT program would be a better choice for him.
“With this industry there is steady work because gas is such a booming industry right now. Once we graduate, we are basically guaranteed a job with Feeney Brothers if our grades are good,” Legendre said.
In an interview with the Reporter, Egan said that the gas utility industry is expecting a work force shortage in Massachusetts because roughly 40 percent of the utility industry workforce will become eligible for retirement in the next five years.
Manny DaSilveira, a native of Cape Verde who now lives in Dorchester, is also graduating this year. He previously studied graphic design at Madison Park 2002, and spent a semester and a half at the Massachusetts College of Art.
“I left because I wanted to do more,” DaSilveira explained. For the next decade, he worked a wide variety of jobs, until two years ago when he decided to go back to school. Now at 32, he says, “I know exactly why I am at school. I’m not just trying to get by; now I can really appreciate what I’m learning.”
DaSilveira and Letendre plan on re-interviewing with Feeney Brothers and staying with the company after graduation. Egan said he hopes that graduates of the Bunker Hill program stay with the company because, he said, they “are part of our culture now.”