PowerPathway™ demonstrates how educational institutions, government agencies, industry and labor can collaborate to prepare a more competitive candidate pipeline for the energy and utility industries, benefitting diverse communities.
Several years ago, PG&E identified a gap between the company’s workforce needs and the availability of work-ready applicants. In response, PG&E launched PowerPathway™—a collaboration with local community colleges, the public workforce development system, industry employers and unions—to enlarge the talent pool of qualified candidates for entry-level skilled craft jobs, such as utility workers and linemen.
Since then, the PowerPathway™ model has expanded to include four-year universities in new geographic areas, new job classifications and military veterans who are transitioning into the energy sector.
In October 2010, President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board announced Skills for America’s Future, a new endeavor to improve industry partnerships with community colleges and build a nationwide network to maximize workforce development strategies, job training programs and job placement. Through our PowerPathway™ program, PG&E was among five corporations named in this White House workforce initiative, joining the Gap Inc., McDonalds, United Technologies and Accenture.
Another important milestone in 2010 was broadening the program’s Training Network to four areas:
- Skilled Crafts to strengthen basic skills and knowledge of the energy and utility industry, including technical, job specific and soft skills training;
- Clean Tech Vehicles to teach how to maintain and operate an environmentally friendly fleet of vehicles;
- Energy Efficiency and Renewables to help achieve California’s energy efficiency and demand-side management potential; and
- Engineering and Smart Grid to focus on the evolving opportunities in power engineering and energy efficient building and sustainable construction practices.
Last year, coursework ranged from piloting an intensive solar water heating program at Diablo Valley College to a course on how to maintain and repair hybrid trucks and air brakes for heavy duty vehicles at American River College to a four-course certificate in power engineering at California State University, East Bay.
The program also published The Green Jobs Primer for Communities, which highlights best practices for workforce sustainability—providing cities, counties, educational institutions, workforce development organizations and community-based organizations with a collaborative model that can be replicated.
Each PowerPathway program follows an industry-driven need and is tailored to strengthen the capacity of the local educational institution. PG&E’s role in each network partnership varies, and may include curriculum design, train-the-trainer programs, technical assistance, equipment donation, program funding, employment and enlistment of additional employers to advise and hire.
PG&E also continues to facilitate dialogue on workforce development issues. Last year, we convened more than 150 partners from industry, education, labor and government to discuss California’s readiness to deliver a diverse and skilled workforce for the new energy economy. Attendees took away a greater understanding of the utility industry’s workforce needs and new opportunities for collaboration.
In 2011, PowerPathway will continue to offer and build out post-secondary career pathways, with a focus on developing curriculum to prepare PG&E professionals and others to design and manage energy efficiency program upgrades for commercial, industrial and residential buildings. As part of our commitment to Skills for America’s Future, we also plan to provide $1.5 million of in-kind support per year—through community college curriculum design, faculty training programs, co-delivery of classroom instruction and student field visits—to expand energy career pathways.