By Tony Khing
What does PG&E have in common with some of America’s largest companies? According to a new survey, the company is among the top five in the United States at providing opportunities and economic mobility for their coworkers who don’t have a college degree.
The American Opportunity Index—a joint project of the Burning Glass Institute, Harvard Business School’s Project on Managing the Future of Work, and the Schultz Family Foundation—measured 250 companies on the level of growth chances they provide coworkers within the company and beyond.
PG&E, which ranked fourth and was tops amongst all utility companies, scored high in the index’s three core dimensions of opportunity generation:
- The access that companies offer to opportunity
- The pay available for low- and middle-skill roles
- The level of mobility experienced within and beyond the firm
Among the many programs PG&E has to increase opportunities and mobility, three have proven to be successful.
Over the last 15 years, PowerPathway has helped in developing the next generation of the utility industry workforce. More than 50, eight-week cohorts have prepared people to work in gas and electric operations. PowerPathway has trained more than 1,300 students, 70% of them diverse. Of the graduates, nearly 47% are veterans and 12% are women. Through last year, 91% of graduates have found employment within PG&E or the utility industry.
Tuition Refund Program
PG&E coworkers can be reimbursed for approved courses at various colleges through the Tuition Refund Program. The approved courses are designed to assist coworkers in performing their current duties and to enable them to assume new duties in the future.
Most of the reimbursements have gone towards earning a work-related Master’s Degree (24%), a Bachelor’s Degree (17.5%) and an MBA (14.5%). The top-three areas of study based on spend include business administration and finance, engineering and information technology.
The Tuition Refund Program has proven to be popular with participants. Over the last four years, more than 80 percent of those surveyed said they are likely or very likely to recommend the program to fellow coworkers.
Leadership and Employee Development
PG&E, like many companies, doesn’t want to lose talented coworkers to other companies. The company’s Leadership and Employee Development (LED) team provides coworkers with tools to create a career path, grow real-world skills and build professional networks.
Through LED, various career development courses are available. Among them:
- Considering Leadership introduces coworkers to key leadership attributes and behaviors necessary to be a successful leader.
- New to Leadership at PG&E helps onboard coworkers in first-time leadership roles.
- Safety Leadership Development Program trains crew leads, supervisors, superintendents and managers who lead coworkers by focusing on safety leadership skills.
- Leading the Energy Network of Tomorrow helps the top 30% of company leaders develop positive behaviors and skills which are applied immediately while working on a project.
“Approximately 90% of development occurs through real-time experiences and on-the-job training,” said Gail Janét , PG&E expert leadership and employee development program manager. “It’s important for coworkers and leaders to talk frequently and explicitly about development goals and place plans. In 2021, PG&E filled 49% of positions with internal candidates.
“Preparing coworkers for future opportunities and developing internal talent,” she added, “is a company priority.”
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