Workforce Development and Learning

Working with Our Labor Unions

For PG&E to be successful, it is critically important to engage all employees in our operating plan, including the company's thousands of union employees, which comprise approximately 70 percent of the company's workforce.

To facilitate this dialogue, PG&E holds regular meetings with IBEW Local 1245 and ESC/IFPTE Local 20 leadership to jointly review the wide range of issues associated with transforming our business to meet the challenges of the future, including workforce planning and training.

During 2007, PG&E's union employees played an integral role in helping to define new work processes and technologies to allow us to do our work better, faster and more efficiently. This engagement included helping to plan, test and implement these new tools and procedures.

In all, more than 500 IBEW- and ESC/IFPTE-represented employees served as focus group participants, trainers and "super users," leading up to the launch of a major set of new processes and technologies as part of the company’s business transformation effort. While we have experienced significant challenges with the new processes and technologies, the groundwork has been laid to expand and build off of this engagement to ensure that we are meeting the needs of both our entire workforce and our customers.

The company also worked collaboratively with the unions on several ongoing initiatives, consistent with industry best practices. These include serving on teams to review company procedures and identify ways to improve service to our customers, transforming PG&E's call centers into high-functioning contact centers of the future and developing training that will give supervisors and shop stewards the tools to resolve issues in a timely manner.

As California's largest utility, we face a complex, changing business environment. We are transforming our business to meet this challenge, recognizing that our employees are our greatest asset. Through a variety of high-quality learning experiences, we are committed to equipping our employees with the tools they need to be successful. We continue to focus our training to better align with our business priorities and support the myriad new tools and procedures we are introducing to enhance our service to customers.

There were several key highlights in 2007:

  • We trained our employees on a variety of new systems and processes for how work is planned, managed and performed at PG&E. In 2007, we provided instructor-led training for approximately 3,500 employees, web-based training for approximately 5,000 employees on our new system for working with suppliers and training on our new customer billing system for 350 employees.
  • We continued our Leadership Academy, which helps the company's management enhance their leadership skills. Many of the workshops were led by PG&E officers, who shared their perspectives on our business.
  • We offered technical training for employees and third parties on a variety of topics, from power system operations to environmental compliance. The courses, developed by instructional design specialists and delivered by nationally certified instructors, focus on both the “how to” and the broader context.

PG&E also continued its partnership with our labor unions to help create a smooth transition from the workforce of today to tomorrow. For example, we are working with IBEW Local 1245 to jointly oversee an aggressive effort to place employees into apprenticeship and formal training programs. PG&E currently has 800 employees participating in these programs, most of which run for three years and include both classroom and on-the-job training. Most of the company's formal training programs lead to state certification as a journeyman in jobs like lineman, electrician and welder. PG&E is also partnering with ESC/IFPTE Local 20 on training for estimators—employees who play an essential role in moving work through PG&E's processes so that we can complete various jobs for customers, including new connections.

Looking Ahead: PowerPathway™ Program

Within the next few years, roughly 42 percent of all PG&E employees and nearly 50 percent of management employees will be eligible for retirement. This statistic is common among utilities and has been cited in studies by groups such as the Center for Energy Workforce Development, The Conference Board and the U.S. Department of Energy.

To meet these challenges, PG&E created a new PowerPathway™ program, working collaboratively with labor, industry, government, community-based organizations, foundations and California's educational institutions. The goal of the program is to create workforce pipelines to systematically fill high-demand, hard-to-fill positions such as utility workers, apprentice lineworkers, welders, instrument technicians and electrical technicians.

The program will launch in 2008 with pilot efforts in San Francisco / Oakland, San Mateo / San Jose and Fresno. In each geographic area, selected local community colleges, working along with strategic partners, will provide curricula to prepare qualified students for targeted positions.