Workforce Development and Learning

The emergence of new technologies and the demand for cleaner, more efficient energy solutions are promising to change the utility business dramatically in the years ahead. The companies that succeed as this evolution occurs will be those that, among other factors, excel most in attracting, building and retaining the best talent at all levels.


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Rising to the Challenge more...

More than 140 engineering students from 26 community colleges and universities throughout California attended the 6th annual Student Leadership Conference hosted by PG&E and Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA). The two-day conference enabled the diverse group of students to gain new skills and learn more about careers in the engineering and technology fields.
Across the industry, many of the nation's utility workers are nearing the end of their careers. In fact, over the next five years, approximately 40 percent of PG&E's workforce will become eligible for retirement. These expected retirements include the ranks of workers needed to build, operate and maintain our vital infrastructure, creating new opportunities for those interested in utility and energy sector careers.

There is no single solution to building and sustaining the skilled and qualified workforce we need. As a core component of our strategy, PG&E's PowerPathway™ program continues to help California produce the skilled workers needed by the utility and energy industry. The PowerPathway program uncovers industry-driven needs, pursues a systems approach for establishing career pathways, engages in public-private partnerships with community entities and emphasizes reaching out to underserved communities.

We are also focused on developing leaders from within our company, at all levels and in all roles. Through new strategies and training programs, we are working to create a culture where the next generation of leaders is always emerging behind the current one. For example, PG&E's MBA Leadership Program is a two-year program that enables graduates from the nation's top business schools to work on some of our toughest business challenges.

Engaging Our Employees more...

We are redoubling our commitment to engage our employees, which is critical because employee engagement drives better business outcomes. For PG&E, employee engagement means employees want to be at work, feel good about the work they do and go above and beyond to make the company successful. Creating a work environment high in engagement requires the participation of all employees—respectfully communicating and sharing ideas and solutions, supporting one another and fostering innovation and maintaining an active dialogue to ensure we make and implement the best decisions for the company.

In essence, our success hinges on employees embracing and using our company values to deliver on our strategies of operational excellence and customer focus.

While we made important progress in 2009, we missed our target for employee engagement and still have work to do in this area. In fact, we have launched a five-year program to improve employee engagement within PG&E—setting a target to be in the top quartile among “most admired companies” by the end of 2014.

Results of Annual Employee Survey more...

One of the indicators of engaged employees comes from the results of our annual employee survey. The data below shows key strengths and opportunities for employee engagement as measured in the 2009 survey.

(Results are shown as the percentage of favorable responses.)

Results of Annual Employee Survey Results of Annual Employee Survey Results of Annual Employee Survey

1 2008 was the first year for designated survey questions.
2 2009 was the first year for designated survey questions.

Learning and Development Opportunities more...

As our industry transitions to the next generation of clean energy and infrastructure investments, it is critical that we have the systems in place to train the workforce we need to build, operate and maintain these vital resources. It is also critical that we adopt more flexible and accessible systems for learning, given the increased demand for online, real-time training among our employees.

To meet this challenge, we continue to enhance the PG&E Academy, a centralized learning organization committed to enhancing workforce skills and qualifications.

There were several important highlights for the Academy in 2009:

  1. We developed a new central online learning system, making it easier for employees to manage their training needs and requirements. Importantly, we designed the system with input from employees across the company. This helped to ensure it meets the current needs of our employees while maintaining the flexibility needed to accommodate future training requirements.
  2. We expanded our Livermore Learning and Qualification Center, a 44-acre, state-of-the-art training complex designed to provide hands-on, interactive learning experiences for transmission and distribution employees. To support electric transmission training, we added three 100-foot towers and a heliport. We also added simulated gas infrastructure to support training for detecting, marking and locating gas leaks.
  3. We broadened our professional development curriculum, which focuses on enhancing employees' skills at all levels to strengthen their contributions in their current roles and help prepare them for career advancement.

Key areas of focus in 2009 and into 2010 include better aligning our training curriculum to support the core and leadership competencies we have identified for employees. We are also enhancing our online e-learning options so that employees can take courses more conveniently and meet their specific needs to advance their personal development.

We are also implementing an in-depth pilot program in 2010 to prepare the next generation of PG&E supervisors with the skills and knowledge they will need. By sharing on-the-job experiences and building relationships with peers, the training program is focused on increasing employee engagement and continuing to build bench strength for critical leadership positions within the company.


Leveraging Increased Online Training

Photo: Lewis Stewart
As they go through an intensive 3½-year training program, PG&E's apprentice linemen are tested every six months. In the past, this has meant a two-day investment in time to get all apprentices from their local areas to our training center in Livermore for each of the testing sessions.

Last year, we launched an online testing solution, allowing employees to go to one of thirteen regional testing centers, take the exam, get immediate results and head back to work the same day. Now, within minutes of completing the exam, employees have a grade and a coaching report that helps them identify areas where they need further work.

The new approach contributes to our strategy of operational excellence, providing a more efficient use of employees' time and a cost savings for the company. It also minimizes safety risk and air emissions with fewer employees on the highway for extended periods of time.