At PG&E, building the workforce of tomorrow starts today. In our rapidly changing industry, hiring and training employees with expertise in cybersecurity and solar energy goes hand-in-hand with developing the skills of our gas and electric crews. Our strategy includes a detailed in-house program to develop and train our next generation of leaders, partnerships with California colleges and universities, and outreach to underserved communities across our service area to find and recruit the most qualified and promising candidates.
Two industry trends are converging, posing twin challenges for PG&E and energy companies across the country. First, a large percentage of employees will be eligible to retire in the next five years. Second is the shortage of skilled workers in the pipeline to replace them.
To address this critical challenge, PG&E is reaching out to the public and private sectors. We are also cultivating emerging leaders within PG&E and providing best-in-class training and development opportunities to all employees. Our goal is to continuously improve the quality of our training programs and hire from our own ranks whenever possible.
PowerPathway student makes history
U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Farron Drylie became the first active-duty military member to complete the PowerPathway program, commenting that “All of our instructors have been really fantastic. Many of them worked for PG&E and are subject matter experts.”
PG&E’s nationally recognized PowerPathway™ program continues to play a central role in our workforce development strategy. Enrolled students receive industry-specific training that addresses the academic, vocational and physical abilities students will need to enter the workforce.
Created in 2008, the program targets those who are out of work or underemployed, and has always had a strong focus on enhancing opportunities for women, minorities and those who have served our country in the military.
PowerPathway involves close collaboration with our local communities—including community colleges, community-minded organizations, labor unions and the public workforce development system—to attract and train future workers in the skills necessary for a career in the gas and electric business. The program is helping to create a pipeline of qualified candidates, with a growing number of program graduates finding employment at PG&E or as a contractor.
Military Outreach and Support
PG&E has been a strong supporter of training and hiring veterans and military members and recognizes the invaluable skills and perspectives they can offer companies looking for mature, highly qualified employees. Our commitment was recognized by Vice President Joe Biden, who visited PG&E’s Oakland facility to thank PG&E for its support of the Obama Administration’s workforce and economic development initiatives.
Internally, more than 1,000 employees, both veterans and those who support them, are part of PG&E’s Veterans Employee Resource Group.
PG&E recruiting includes outreach to diverse communities in California and across the United States. In 2015 alone, our staff attended three national diversity recruiting conferences as well as 32 other smaller scale conferences, career fairs and events. PG&E also held 23 on-campus recruiting events at 14 campuses for university students, giving them the opportunity to speak with our employees and learn firsthand about PG&E.
In addition, PG&E offers summer internships for students and entry-level engineer and other rotational programs for recent college graduates to introduce young professionals to new work experiences and career development opportunities.
Employee Technical Training
Employees perform specialized training to handle energized power lines
PG&E completed annual training in Los Banos for a special group of linemen who perform upgrades, maintenance and repairs on energized transmission power lines that carry 60,000 to 500,000 volts of electricity. The technique, called “barehanding” in the energy industry, eliminates the need to de-energize a power line and interrupt electric service to customers, as was the practice in the past. Safety is the top priority as workers are protected from energized equipment by using insulated tools, ladders and aerial lifts and wearing a special suit that acts like a shield.
For employees, we provide a range of technical training on the knowledge and skills to perform their jobs safely using approved work procedures. These courses help prepare our workforce as we integrate new technologies, systems and processes into our operations. PG&E is committed to ensuring all employees are qualified to perform their assigned tasks over the duration of their careers and offers a range of skill refresher and employee development courses.
Much of this training is provided at our two primary training facilities: the 44-acre Livermore Training and Qualification Center and the San Ramon Valley Conference Center. Beyond these facilities, we bring the classroom to employees with our new virtual learning studio and two mobile training centers that allow for on-site instruction.
In 2015, we also broke ground on a $75 million, state-of-the-art Gas Operations Technical Training Center in Winters, California. Once construction is complete in 2017, the facility will employ approximately 50 full-time employees and provide about 36,000 technical training hours per year, with 100 to 150 students on site each day.
Leadership and Employee Development
PG&E’s long-term strategic planning includes a focus on succession planning, supporting the successful onboarding of new employees and leaders, and supporting employee development throughout their careers.
All employees begin their time at PG&E with a full-day onboarding program where they learn about our history, vision and values. In 2015, to address the growing amount of leaders new to PG&E, we introduced a seven-day onboarding and development program that also included newly promoted first-time leaders.
To support individual employees as they grow throughout their careers, PG&E offers more than 25 career development courses, an active mentoring program, tuition reimbursement for qualifying education expenses, temporary rotational assignments and other tools to help them grow in their current roles and advance at PG&E.
To support leaders’ collective growth, we launched Leading Forward—a comprehensive program for leaders at all levels that features integrated training simulation and experiences to inspire our leaders to take on industry challenges and deliver on our five-year business strategy. The curriculum builds skills in areas such as leading with safety, managing operations and developing teams—all of which contribute to how we are shaping our culture. Participation is designed so that all leaders have an opportunity to attend based on a five-year schedule.
To improve engagement and promote a sustainable workforce, PG&E introduced a goal to hire 75 percent of director and above vacancies from within over the next five years. This internal hiring focus is helping to keep the turnover rate at PG&E low, with just 3.63 percent of new employees leaving voluntarily within one to three years from their hire date. That mark places PG&E within the first quartile among gas and electric providers.
In addition, we offer two formal rotational programs:
- MBA Leadership Program, a two-year program that places graduates from the nation’s top business schools in positions to work on some of our toughest business challenges.
- Engineer Rotational Development Program, an 18-month program in partnership with Stanford University, which gives employees the opportunity to earn a PG&E Engineering Management certification.
Partnered with American River College on Project STRIPE
Teaming with American River College (ARC), the Sacramento Utility District, the City of Sacramento, and other agencies, PG&E modified PowerPathway to add industry-specific training to ARC’s Project STRIPE, an intensive pre-apprenticeship program that prepares students for skilled trades jobs. The class lasted 16 weeks and covered topics such as equipment safety and green technology.
Top military friendly employer
In 2015, the PowerPathway program marked a number of significant achievements as we continued to build a talent pipeline for the energy industry. Notable accomplishments included:
- Enrolled the first-ever class comprised of active-duty military members. This new training effort was launched at Bates Technical College in Tacoma, Washington. The program was exclusively for service members stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a U.S. Army-U.S. Air Force installation.
- Expanded PowerPathway to Kern County. For the first time, PG&E offered its PowerPathway program in Bakersfield, generating thousands of applicants for just 20 positions. The PowerPathway Entry to Gas and Electric Operations program featured a customized 240-hour career training course designed to prepare participants for jobs in the energy field.
- Announced commitment to hire 1,000 veterans in the next eight years. Called the “1,000 Careers Project,” the program will include educating PG&E recruiters, hiring managers and field leadership on the skills and abilities of military veterans, help ensure that veterans have access to ongoing support and professional development opportunities as they build careers at PG&E, and make PG&E a preferred employer for veterans in California.
- Launched program for direct hiring from PowerPathway for military veterans. We developed a five-week training program to help military veterans transition to roles in the gas and electric industry. The program produced 17 highly qualified customer service representatives, all of whom successfully completed the PowerPathway program and transferred to positions in PG&E’s customer organization.
Earning international recognition
Lloyd’s Register, the prestigious international engineering and safety consulting firm, recognized PG&E Academy, our in-house organization charged with enhancing employees’ skills and qualifications, as “world class” in a recent review. The firm stated that the Academy uses “state of the art tools to deliver specific and targeted training to employees.”
We also continued to make strides toward our leadership and employee development goals. Highlights included:
- Implemented Leading Forward, an integrated framework designed to develop leaders at every level. In 2015, we offered courses for newly hired or promoted leaders, directors and officers to accelerate their development. A program for supervisors will roll out in 2016, with the remaining programs scheduled to launch in 2017. The program was recognized by the White House for helping workers gain skills to advance into better-paying jobs as part of the Administration’s effort to highlight the importance of the private sector in developing the capabilities and leadership skills of their team members.
- Expanded a Crew Leadership Program. Designed to strengthen leadership skills among our crew leads, this hands-on, interactive course expanded in 2015 to our gas operations organization, which saw more than 165 crew leads complete the course. An additional 125 electric operations crew leads completed the course in 2015.
- Developed a program to improve organizational effectiveness by simplifying our processes, enhancing governance and taking other related steps that will enable our employees to grow and thrive.
- Expanded our Summer Intern program, one of the many ways PG&E helps develop a talented new generation of workers and provide a view of PG&E to potential employees. We are on pace to hire more than 200 interns in 2016.
- Continued our Apprentice Line Worker Program. This comprehensive five-year program is designed to develop the most proficient and safest line workers in the industry through a combination of field and classroom work. The fifth and final year focuses on coaching and communication so our line workers can lead while in the field. We expect 125 apprentices to graduate by the end of 2016.
Restoration exercises build trust, coordinated communications
Every quarter, employees responsible for the operation, reliability and restoration of the electric transmission system perform exercises that offer training and experience on restoring service to customers. Participants practice using local system restoration procedures and work through simulations, enhancing coordination and communication within PG&E.
The wide variety of PowerPathway programs—ranging from customer service representative to gas pipeline inspector—are adding new, diverse and qualified candidates to the utility talent pool. By the end of 2015, more than 800 people—including 400 veterans—had graduated from one of the programs. Approximately 80 percent of program graduates have gone on to find employment in the energy industry. Other program highlights include:
- 108 program graduates in 2015
- 323 graduates hired by PG&E since 2008, with a 10 percent higher retention rate after six months than other hires
- Within one year of hire, 70 percent progress into apprenticeships or higher job classifications
Additionally, as part of our continuing commitment to our employees, we delivered more than 670,000 hours of technical, leadership and employee training in 2015. To measure the success of that training, participating employees complete surveys and provide feedback on how much the training has increased their knowledge. For courses that teach technical skills or reinforce skills that involve high-consequence tasks, every employee is required to pass an assessment that covers both knowledge and skills gained.
At PG&E Academy, our in-house organization charged with enhancing employees’ skills and qualifications, we introduced a new five-point scale survey in 2014, asking employees to rate their ability to use training on the job. In 2015, training effectiveness measured 4.44, which exceeded our goal of 4.31.
PG&E will continue to evolve our workforce strategies to train, develop and retain top talent from across our service area and beyond. PowerPathway is working with military installations in California to bring active duty service member training programs to California, and the direct-hire PowerPathway model will be expanded to other lines of business within PG&E.
We also remain committed to delivering high-quality training across a broad spectrum of categories to build and maintain a qualified, motivated and skilled workforce. With many of our employees eligible to retire in the coming years, we continue to focus on capturing the institutional knowledge gained through their years on the job by building it into our formal work practices and training or through directly training other employees.