IN THIS ISSUE:
- Regional Meetings Provide CEWD Members with Forum to Learn, Share, Network
- West/Northwest Regional Meeting
- South/Southeast Regional Meeting
- Midwest Regional Meeting
- MidAtlantic/Northeast Regional Meeting
- Upcoming Events
Regional Meetings Provide CEWD Members with Forum to Learn, Share, Network
Each year, CEWD goes on the road to meet with its members in the regions they serve. In each of four meetings across the country, CEWD staff provide members with updates on strategies, trends, and resources that may affect the way they build and maintain their talent pipelines, while offering opportunities for networking and information sharing.
“When we talk about the value of CEWD, we’re really talking about three main benefits to our members,” said Ann Randazzo, Executive Director, CEWD. “One is the national strategic planning that we provide, things like how to address game changers in the industry and the survey we conduct to identify gaps in the energy workforce pipeline. The second is the wealth of tools and other resources we provide to members that can be custom-tailored for regional implementation, so they don’t need to create everything from scratch. The third is the ability to connect quickly with others in the industry to learn about how they may be solving some of the same problems many members are facing, or to find opportunities to work collaboratively on regional challenges. Our regional meetings actually provide value to members in each of these areas—they offer a lot of bang for the buck over just two days.”
The 2019 regional meetings saw record attendance, with 197 members gathering across four venues: in Tucson, hosted by Tucson Electric Power (TEP); in Florida, hosted by NextEra; in Minneapolis, hosted by Xcel; and in DC, hosted by Edison Electric Institute (EEI).
“CEWD’s regional meetings provide a value-added, industry-specific forum to learn and share talent and workforce development success practices and opportunities with other utilities,” said Conrad Samuels, SPHR, Pepco, who recently attended the MidAtlantic/Northeast regional meeting July 10–11.
Each of this year’s regional meetings began with a pre-meeting Troops to Energy Jobs Workshop designed to help members improve their workforce development strategies for veterans and transitioning service members.
“We took our workforce development framework—which offers strategies for Readiness, Building the Talent Pipeline, Recruiting and Hiring, and Employee Development and Retention—and we applied it to how well members were doing with veterans and military hires,” Randazzo said. “We’ve created this framework at the national level that can be applied to any demographic. We took it and broke it down in great detail, discussing how to connect recruiters to the pipeline.
Representatives of Veterans in Energy (VIE), the national group of veteran employees in the energy industry, also attended the meetings and encouraged members to attend the 2019 VIE Forum in September, where they can learn more about how VIE provides transition, retention, and professional development support to servicemembers entering the energy industry. For more information about the upcoming VIE Forum, visit http://veteransinenergy.org.
The second day of each regional meeting was devoted to a discussion of energy industry game changers and updates on initiatives such as a CEWD task force to measure progress on industry-wide workforce initiatives, how to get the most value out of a CEWD membership, how to use CEWD tools and resources, and updates on region-specific information on workforce supply and demand.
For Portland General Electric (PGE)’s David Fortney, who is new to the energy industry, the game changer discussions were invaluable. Fortney leads PGE’s workforce development and planning department but had been on the job just a few months when he attended the meeting in Tucson.
“Those conversations helped me understand the broader context of what is going on in the industry, what other utilities are going through,” he said. “They gave me a line of insight into what other companies are doing to transition their workforce to meet new business needs.”
The final part of each meeting was devoted to the sharing of best practices and an opportunity for members to learn from each other’s experiences. A sample of those best practices follows in the articles below.
West/Northwest Regional Meeting
On April 10, participants at the meeting in Tucson learned about how Tucson Electric Power (TEP) has expanded the value of its internship program beyond career awareness and exposure to capturing the skills this generation brings to the business environment.
“They described in detail how they were forming new relationships with community colleges and how they were approaching internships as a career pathway strategy,” said David Fortney, Portland General Electric (PGE), who was so intrigued with what TEP was doing he brought the practice back to his own company.
“They’re using internships not just for creating exposure to the industry, but to meet specific needs of the utility industry,” said Fortney. “TEP understands the value of Gen 2020 competencies, and they are really folding these new graduates into the business fabric of their company.”
Following TEP’s lead, Fortney said PGE is now “looking at internships as part of the business. We’re creating opportunities to bring the next generation of workers in earlier and allow these people to grow up with the industry, rather than waiting to get hired 10 years down the road when they have more experience. We’re making space in our head count and in our budget for them. We’re making very intentional decisions around how many interns we want to convert to full time, looking at what are the positions, what are the roles that are explicitly tied to a desired business outcome, whether it’s building out enabling technologies or developing our smart grids.”
Fortney credits the regional meeting with spawning this change at PGE. “TEP shared their best practices and I folded that into my thinking. The concepts stuck with me.”
South/Southeast Regional Meeting
Members who attended the May 14–15 meeting in Juno Beach, FL, had the opportunity to test out a virtual reality lineworker training program created by Pike Enterprises to excite youth about coming to work for the energy industry. The tool gives potential job applicants a true sense of what a lineworker does on the job and is also used to train current employees.
“It’s a great tool for the young generation. It’s just like playing a video game,” said Rosa Schmidt, Consultant, CEWD, explaining that Pike uses the demonstration at recruiting events. “Students gather coins while in a bucket truck, but they have to do it safely. It really gives them a good sense of what it would be like to work in a bucket truck, even a good understanding of how high they are off the ground.
“Virtual reality is a great way of introducing youth to the industry, but also getting them excited about the possibility of working in this industry, one that is innovative and creative and is using advanced technology,” said Schmidt.
Pike also uses the system to train new lineworkers and to help employees refresh or learn new skills, she said. They’re working on building other modules for additional job classifications.
Representatives from Louisiana’s consortium also shared a best practice they recently developed with assistance from Ray Kelly, Consultant, CEWD, which allows them to track the success of two lineworker certificate programs. Working with CEWD, they developed metrics on the number of graduates who apply for jobs, how they do during the interview process and on pre-employment tests, and where they fall out of the education and hiring processes. Kelly said he also helped them align their training programs with company hiring cycles.”
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