February 8, 2016
Representatives from Wanzek Construction recently gave a presentation on their new Wind Tech Development Program for students majoring in Wind Energy Technology at Mesalands Community College. Wanzek headquartered in West Fargo, ND, is one of the main contractors for wind turbine installations in the country. One of the company’s goals of “Building Strong Teams” initiated their new internship program to hire qualified wind technicians.
Nick Ibach, Senior Project Manager for Wanzek, was one of the presenters at Mesalands of the Wanzek Wind Tech Development Program. Ibach stated that he had been with Wanzek for nine years and he started out as an intern with the company. He said last year Wanzek started to look for new ways to create a better team within their company.
“We currently have a really good team, however, we wanted to expand the quality players within our company,” Iback said. “One of the initiatives we decided to put together was to go out to schools similar to Mesalands and try to recruit some people that have sought out the industry, sought out knowledge related to the industry and have some good practical training in the classroom, related to what we do daily in the field. That’s why we are here and we look forward to working with Mesalands.”
The Wanzek Wind Tech Development Program will train, mentor and develop graduates that are looking to establish a career in the industry. The program will expose graduates to different areas
of the industry and design post-graduate career paths based on skill-sets, interests and industry needs. Technician training may include, but not limited to, performing tasks involving physical labor on a wind farm and assisting the managers of various areas including, civil, turbine installation, electrical/HV, foundation and transmission.
Program benefits include: guaranteed employment after obtaining a two-year degree, or a certificate in Wind Renewables or in a related field, a $3,000 sign on bonus, a $1,500 yearly retention bonus for three years, top industry pay and benefits, travel opportunities, and a housing allowance and per diem while travelling.
“We are in a fantastic position right now where people are competing for our graduates,” said Andy Swapp, Wind Energy Technology Faculty at Mesalands.
Swapp said that in addition to partnering with Wanzek Construction and Granite Services International, Inc. for wind internship programs, he said he is currently in discussion with Javalina Wind Farm out of Laredo, TX and Vestas Wind Power, to possibly hire wind graduates of Mesalands. Swapp also mentioned that many of these job opportunities will start from $19 to $21 per hour and many of them offer a per diem of approximately $100 per day when travelling.
Swapp attributes this recent recognition to improved marketing of the Wind Energy Technology Program and the fact that Congress recently passed a five-year production tax credit (PTC) for the wind industry. He said this has never been done before and in the past the PTC was only for one-year or two years at a time.
According to Swapp, in 2015 the wind industry grew by 25 percent and it is predicted to grow even greater with the five-year PTC.
“I think that’s one reason all of these companies are reaching out to our wind graduates because they are going to need a great number of wind technicians in the next five years,” Swapp said. “It’s a great time and a great opportunity to get a high-paying and a high-skilled job in this industry.”