By Lowen Baumgarten
While many businesses still navigate the soft economy by staffing conservatively, PG&E is hiring for many different kinds of jobs, at all levels.
“The utility industry is changing,” said Ananda Baron, PG&E recruiting director. “While the rest of the economy has been in a downturn, there are areas that are growing, like smart grid technology. PG&E is constantly evolving in order to best serve our customers in the future, which allows us to hire the right talent now.”
Another fact, Baron pointed out, is that because many people find working at PG&E so rewarding, the average tenure at the company is 16 years. That means that 45 percent of the PG&E workforce – and those employees with the most skills and experience – are eligible to retire in the next three to five years.
“The skills specific to being a troubleman, who is sent out to repair electrical outages, for example, are not skills readily available in the marketplace,” said Baron. “They’re skills we develop at PG&E over multi-year apprenticeships, which is why we’re aggressively building a healthy pipeline of talent now.”
Committed to Training
That deep commitment to training pervades PG&E and is focused on developing technical expertise and a strong safety culture. For electric operations, the career track begins with the Pre-Apprentice Lineman Program, a 12-month period of formal training that includes courses in basic electricity and engineering principles, safety and physical skills.
Similar training programs are in place for professional positions. PG&E has summer internships for undergraduate and graduate students; a 12-month rotational program for engineers with hands-on experience and mentoring; and an MBA Leadership Program for recent business school graduates that includes two 12-month rotations in operations, finance, customer care, technology and other divisions.
“Career development for all employees is a company goal,” said Baron. “Once you’re here, there’s a training program that’s either required to do your current job or directly tied to advancing your career at PG&E.”
Also committed to developing the broader workforce in its communities, PG&E has partnered with universities, community colleges, unions and workforce development agencies to prepare candidates for high skill positions in the energy and utility sector through the PG&E PowerPathway™ program. Participants in PG&E PowerPathway can partake of industry-advised short-term courses and certificates at colleges and universities throughout California to improve their candidacy for jobs that range from apprentice welders to energy-efficiency engineers.
Opportunities for Everyone
Safely powering one in 20 homes in America is a significant responsibility and PG&E needs many talented people to do it – people with many different backgrounds and experience.
“We have a lot of different jobs at PG&E,” said Baron. “There’s opportunity for everyone: engineers, marketing professionals, financial analysts, environmentalists and IT specialists, just to name a few.”
Baron also emphasized that the company is committed to having a workforce reflective of the communities it serves. PG&E is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer that actively pursues and hires a diverse workforce. In 2010, PG&E received several workplace awards, including being listed among FORTUNE magazine’s “Top Employers for Minorities.” PG&E also fosters several Employee Resource Groups, such as the Women’s Network Employee Resource Group, which support PG&E employees as well as offering scholarships to college-bound students in the company’s service area.
“Some of these Employee Resource Groups have been in existence at PG&E for over 50 years, while in the larger business sector, employee associations are just starting to gain momentum,” said Baron. “At PG&E, diversity is reflected in everything we do.”
Resources and Information Available Online
Because recruiting talented people is so important to PG&E’s ability to serve its customers today and in the future, the company recently redesigned the Careers page on its website. Featuring videos, interviews with real PG&E employees, listings of open PowerPathway courses as well as open positions in professional roles and field operations, the new page, www.pge.com/careers, has all the information candidates need to pursue a job with PG&E.
Visitors to the new page will see that PG&E needs people who like to work with their hands outdoors as well as financial managers in downtown offices and technology experts across the company’s service area.
“While the jobs we’re hiring for are very different,” said Baron, “we’re always looking for one thing: integrity. We want people who value safety and have the judgment to do what’s right.”