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Posted on July 8, 2011

Veterans Getting Trained for Valuable Energy Jobs, Thanks in Part to PG&E

By David Kligman

PG&E is one of five utilities in the nation taking part in a new program to help veterans get energy jobs.

Troops to Energy Jobs

Because of their training and background, many veterans are a natural fit for the energy industry. (Photo by David Kligman)

With a significant percentage of its workforce eligible to retire within the next five years, the energy industry has launched the Troops to Energy Jobs program, which will establish an ongoing process to recruit and train veterans for careers in energy. The program will be introduced Monday, July 11, in Washington, D.C.

At PG&E, Troops to Energy Jobs will be integrated into the utility’s recruitment strategy and its existing PowerPathway program that collaborates with community colleges, the public workforce development system and unions to increase the talent pool of qualified candidates. For the past three years, PowerPathway has offered energy-specific training programs for veterans and non-veterans to prepare them for careers in the energy industry.

With their extensive military training and experience, many veterans already have the basic skills and knowledge required for careers in energy.

“Military veterans are a natural fit for the work we do and the jobs we have,” said Mario Rendon, interim director of PG&E’s Workforce Sustainability department, which oversees the PowerPathway program. “They have discipline, attention to detail, the ability to follow orders and understand the importance of standard operating procedures. Our job is to help them translate their experience into the civilian world.”

More than a job

The key is to get military veterans to believe in their skills and think of utility work as a career and not just their next job, said Pat Barr, a consultant for the PowerPathway program in Fresno County, who helps veterans find jobs.

“I recently had some sharpshooters who didn’t think they had any transferrable skills,” she said. “But we found they had a high level of focus, they could read roadmaps like nobody’s business, they had the patience of Job and they could take apart and put back together nine types of weapons. Most of them had also jumped out of airplanes by choice. They’re actually ideal for utility work.”

Here’s how the Troops to Energy Jobs works:

  • The program communicates energy career opportunities to veterans before and after they leave the military. A support system is available, including transition coaches familiar with the energy industry, academic advisors and mentors from energy companies.
  • The program identifies a standardized curriculum and credentials needed to succeed in the energy industry and works with community and technical colleges, as well as four-year universities, to provide programs ideal for a career in energy.
  • The program provides access to employment, including internships and entry to high-skilled energy jobs. Companies may choose to have employees with a military background to serve as career coaches and mentors.

Introducing the program

PG&E representatives will be at the National Press Club on Monday in Washington, D.C., for an event introducing the program. Also scheduled to appear are Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Calif. Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and U.S. Rep. Ed Whitefield (R-Ky.).

Troops to Energy Jobs logo“Our veterans have sacrificed so much in defending our nation and too often, they return home to dim job prospects,” Costa said. “Through the promising job training programs offered through PG&E and other utilities, our nation’s veterans will have a clear avenue to train for excellent, well-paying jobs.”

Besides PG&E, the other energy companies taking part in the program are American Electric Power, Dominion, Arizona Public Service Company and Southern Company.

The goal is to eventually expand the program to the rest of the energy industry.

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"PG&E" refers to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.
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