By Katie Key
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A pipeline of qualified veterans looking for employment could play a key role as the energy industry seeks quality, highly skilled workers. This is especially true as 40 percent of all utility employees may need to be replaced for retirement or other attrition in the next five years, a PG&E senior vice president told a Congressional subcommittee today (May 20).
“Our industry has been a leader in veterans hiring. We know the return on investment. Veterans have the training and skills we require — from their expertise to their inherent sense of safety, duty and leadership,” said John Simon, PG&E’s senior vice president of human resources.
“That’s why in 2013 PG&E hired more than 150 veterans and, since 2010, veterans comprise more than seven percent of our overall hires,” he said.
Simon’s testimony came before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity on behalf of PG&E and the Center for Energy Workforce Development, where Simon serves as a member of its executive council. The hearing focused on “Exploring Jobs for Veterans in the Energy Sector.”
Subcommittee Chairman Bill Flores (R-TX) commented on the importance of veterans’ workforce development, especially within the energy industry.
“We want veterans to find well-paying jobs that help support them and their families, Flores said. “I know firsthand that veterans are a perfect fit for this industry and all energy sectors.”
In partnership with educational and workforce programs, labor and industry employers, PG&E created PowerPathway to cultivate and prepare veterans for high-demand positions at PG&E and throughout the electric utility industry. This program is not only benefitting PG&E, it’s helping the utility industry and veterans as well.
As far as results, Simon said, since 2008, more than 450 people have graduated from PowerPathway, including 250 veterans. Today, approximately 85 percent of graduates find employment either at PG&E or in the utility industry, usually with better retention rates than those hired “off-the-street,” he said.
Simon outlined the most important steps in hiring and retaining veterans:
- Aligning military and utility job classifications
- Identifying veterans with the desired basic skills
- Accessing military personnel during the off-boarding process
- Holding training programs for targeted veteran cohorts
- Offering mentoring programs once veterans are hired
The PowerPathway program is just one way that PG&E supports veterans as well as current employees who are in the National Guard or Reserves.
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