PITTSBURGH – Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairman Gladys M. Brown today joined with leaders from the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), along with utilities from across the region, to highlight the importance and impact of educating the next generation of utility workers.
Chairman Brown noted that across Pennsylvania, and throughout the country, there is a strong anticipated need for additional skilled utility workers, driven by a combination of factors – including an aging current workforce as well as the growth of new systems and technologies.
“These opportunities are all around us, but they may be overlooked by students and other job-seekers who are either unaware of, or unclear about, the many #UtilityCareer options available to them,” noted Chairman Brown. “Pennsylvania’s utilities bring vital services to our homes and businesses, and they also represent tens-of-thousands of community-oriented jobs – with good wages, career growth and training opportunities, and the satisfaction of knowing that you are serving your neighbors.”
Chairman Brown was joined by leaders, students and faculty from the college, along with numerous utilities, to encourage talented individuals of all ages and backgrounds to consider careers in the utility sector – which has a strong and growing demand for a new generation of employees. Joining today’s event were leaders from Duquesne Light Company, West Penn Power, UGI Utilities, Columbia Gas, Pennsylvania American Water and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 29.
The strong demand for skilled candidates underscores the importance of educational programs, such as those being offered at CCAC.
“By forging strong partnerships with business and industry and the skilled trades unions in the region, CCAC is able to offer the kind of responsive, skills-based knowledge that both employers and employees need to compete in today’s modern workplace,” says CCAC President Dr. Quintin Bullock. “This is especially true for careers in the public utilities where a combination of different skills are needed to be successful, including critical thinking, complex problem-solving, advanced technological know-how and knowledge of how business works. At CCAC, we are committed to delivering educational programming that provides students with a competitive advantage when it comes to securing employment in their desired field.”
“Utility jobs and skills will remain in demand well into the future, and we encourage talented individuals of all ages and backgrounds – including students, veterans returning to the workforce or adults exploring new career opportunities –
to consider careers in the utility sector,” Chairman Brown emphasized. “These are systems and people we depend upon to keep our communities safe and healthy, and it is important that we do what we can to ensure that our utilities have the skilled and diverse personnel they need to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.”
In Pennsylvania, utility employment is growing faster, and wages are substantially higher, than statewide averages. The average utility wage in Pennsylvania is just over $93,000 per year, which is nearly twice the average wage for all industries – and the number of utility jobs has increased by more than 11 percent over the past five years, which is five times the job growth for all industries.
The statewide and national appetite for utility skills includes:
Field operations, including the people who maintain existing systems and build-out new systems;
Plant operators, who keep the energy and water flowing to our communities; and,
Various technical positions, including relatively new areas of concern, like Cybersecurity.
Nationally, utilities are expected to hire an additional 70,000 workers by 2020, and growth in the energy sector alone is expected to create an estimated 1.5 million jobs by 2030.
Organizations across the state added their perspective regarding workforce development:
“Duquesne Light Company is proud of its continued partnership with CCAC to develop and deliver the electrical distribution technology certificate program, which provides classroom and on the job training for the next generation of electric utility workers,” said Todd Faulk, Vice President of Human Resources at Duquesne Light Company.
“As our lineworker workforce throughout FirstEnergy continues to age, the company continuously seeks out men and women who enjoy working up in the air, in the outdoors, in all types of weather and are committed to the noble service of providing safe, affordable and reliable service to our customers,” said Chad Stoneking, Director of Operations Services for West Penn Power. “We commend the Commission and the CCAC for hosting this event and assisting in that shared pursuit.”
"Columbia Gas is keenly aware of the need to focus on the future of our industry," said Andy Tubbs, Vice President of External and Customer Affairs for Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania. "Workforce development is part of our daily conversation, and we’re proud to join the PUC in its efforts to highlight the importance of education for the next generation of utility workers."
“Today’s event highlights the challenge confronting UGI Utilities every day: how will we identify the qualified women and men necessary to safely and reliably deliver energy to our customers and the many communities we serve,” said Keith Dorman, vice president of communications and community relations for UGI Utilities. “UGI has recognized we must continue to attract qualified workers for our utility operations and supporting training programs at Pennsylvania’s community colleges and technical schools is one way we are addressing this need.”
PUC #UtilityCareers Campaign
Today’s event at CCAC is part of a broader collaborative effort by the PUC, public utilities and educational institutions to increase public awareness about career opportunities in the utility sector. The PUC is working with institutions and agencies statewide to spotlight the options available for young people still considering careers, and for those searching for new opportunities.
“This is an issue that goes far beyond one agency or utility. It’s an issue that has the potential to impact us all, in terms of the reliability and cost of utility service,” said Chairman Brown. “These are systems and people we depend upon to keep our communities safe and healthy, and it is important that we do what we can to ensure that our utilities have the skilled personnel they need to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.”
As part of the effort to increase access to information, the PUC has established an enhanced LinkedIn site to highlight information about job opportunities, not only at the Commission, but also the greater spectrum of utility jobs across the state.
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