Dominion Resources Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Farrell today joined U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu in launching an important new initiative to link returning military veterans to civilian jobs in the energy sector.
Farrell and Secretary Chu were joined in the announcement by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Chairman Ed Whitfield of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power (R-KY), and representatives from five of the nation’s largest electric utility companies, including Dominion, that will participate in the two-year pilot program.
The initiative, called Troops to Energy Jobs, will seek to create an accelerated transition for veterans into civilian energy sector jobs – jobs that are expected to become more plentiful in the next decade as nearly 40 percent of the workforce for the nation’s electric and natural gas companies and nuclear power industry reach retirement age or depart their jobs through attrition.
“With a potential for 200,000 highly skilled jobs opening up in our sector in the next five years, I cannot think of a better place to look for top-notch potential employees than those leaving our nation’s armed services,” Farrell said. “Because of their military experience, those transitioning from the service are safety-focused, disciplined and civic-minded – qualities the energy industry needs to meet its workforce demands and build, maintain and operate infrastructure to meet the energy needs of all Americans.”
Farrell, who also serves as chairman of the Edison Electric Institute, said that the goal of Troops to Energy Jobs is to increase the number of avenues through which veterans with applicable job skills can transition into energy jobs, or for interested veterans to begin the process of training and certification to qualify them for those jobs. The jobless rate for veterans is 30 percent; unemployment benefits – payments to newly discharged service members – climbed from $450 million in 2008 to $882 million in 2010.
“We expect the Troops to Energy Jobs model developed during this two-year pilot to help enlarge the pool of potential applicants for future job vacancies in the energy industry,” he said. “We must develop and perfect a robust national model for more quickly and effectively growing, training and connecting the potential stream of qualified veterans to these jobs.”
Joining Dominion Resources in the pilot effort are four other investor-owned electric utilities – American Electric Power, Southern Company, Pacific Gas and Electric and Arizona Public Service Company. The Washington-based Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD), formed in 2006 to develop solutions to address this potential workforce shortage in the energy industry, will direct the Troops to Energy Jobs program. Troops to Energy Jobs is part of CEWD’s effort to promote energy careers to all segments of the population.
Troops to Energy Jobs will include career matching and assessment, career coaching, mentoring, credit for military training, accelerated curriculum, and apprenticeships that will provide veterans the best pathway for entering energy jobs. The jobs expected to be affected by the coming workforce transition include engineers, technicians, lineworkers, plant operators and pipefitters.
“Troops to Energy Jobs will focus on the needs of educators, employers and veterans. These three groups will work together to get veterans trained, certified and ready to enter the energy workforce after they’ve departed the military,” said CEWD Chairman and AEP Utilities President Robert P. Powers. “Many veterans may have some of the skills and background already needed for starting a successful energy career, but they might not realize these opportunities exist nor have the information they need to navigate the system to find the right fit. Troops to Energy Jobs will endeavor to close those gaps.”
CEWD is a non-profit consortium of electric, natural gas, and nuclear utilities; their associations – the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), American Gas Association (AGA), Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) – and the unions who serve these industries – the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO (UWUA).
To learn more about CEWD and Troops to Energy Jobs, please visit www.cewd.org or www.getintoenergy.com.