A Monthly Update from the Center for Energy Workforce Development
Issue 4, September 2007

In this issue:     Best Practice Spotlight: Expanding Horizons for Youth and Veteran Employees
                        Plugged In: 2007 CEWD Summit - Roadmap to Success
                        The Power Source: New Grant Writing Tool Kit Available to Members

SE Summit Focuses on Solutions to Skilled Labor Shortage

2007 Summit
Oct. 22-24 , 2007
Kansas City, MO

It's not too late - register online!

DOL Brings Together Governors, Energy Industry, Labor, and Education to Address Workforce Development Needs

More than 300 representatives from energy companies, contractors, unions, the workforce system and education and government organizations gathered at a high-profile, two-day summit in Biloxi, Mississippi last month to develop regional solutions arising from a growing shortage of skilled energy workers.

The shortage, which is affecting energy companies nationwide and is expected to worsen as the Baby Boom generation begins to retire, is even more pronounced in the economically booming Southeast. There, energy companies face not only the challenges of shifting demographics but also an expanding energy infrastructure. The region plans $73 billion in new nuclear power plants, 16 coal-fired power plants, 26 gas turbine and 35 combined cycle generating stations over the next decade, to keep up with the increased demand for energy that accompanies economic growth.

“We all face the same challenge of huge needs for infrastructure,” said David Ratcliffe, Chairman, President and CEO of Southern Company, as he addressed a roundtable discussion with Southern governors at the summit.

The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (DOLETA) sponsored the summit, in partnership with Edison Electric Institute and the Nuclear Energy Institute. The meeting was the outgrowth of Department of Labor efforts over the past six years to identify sectors of the economy experiencing significant growth and workforce challenges, and to encourage and help fund systemic solutions, said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco.

Already, her agency has invested more than $100 million directly targeted to energy and construction workforce development needs, with nearly half of that money going to states in the Southeast, she said. Additionally, the 16 Southern states collectively receive each year and should put to strategic use $2.4 billion in federal funds for education and job training.

At the conclusion of the summit, DeRocco announced that two additional funding opportunities would be made available to energy companies and community colleges that wanted to compete for them: Roughly $10 million for regional energy and construction workforce solutions programs stemming from the Administration's High Growth Job Training Initiative; and another $125 million in in Community-Based Job Training Grants, which cut across a variety of industries.

The department's commitment extends well beyond funding, however. DeRocco also promised to reconvene key players in the energy and construction industry and to continue to communicate with Southeastern governors to emphasize the importance of finding regional solutions to these problems.

"We realized we needed a far more strategic effort to make sure that we were not just making individual project investments, but instead were wisely investing in systemic changes that would benefit education, workforce and industry and encourage them to work together," she said, explaining the summit's genesis. "I want to emphasize that it really was a critically important and highly productive session."

During the summit, participants broke into groups organized by state to address four key issues: Career awareness and outreach; policy and education; untapped pools of labor; and funding strategies and alignment of resources. Each group produced an action plan for addressing these issues that can be viewed at www.workforce3one.org.

“What's important is that the solutions have to be adapted to the uniqueness of each economy,” DeRocco said. The groups will continue to meet and further identify critical partners and issues back in their home states.

In order to access all the materials and use other valuable features of the web site, you must first register with Workforce3One using an email address and a corresponding password. Registration is very quick and it is also very easy to retrieve your password if you forget it.

DOL will be hosting a Webinar on progress from the summit on October 19, from 1:00 pm-2:00 pm ET.
Please save the date and check www.workforce3one.org for details!

Spotlight: Consumers Energy

Expanding Horizons for Youth and Veteran Employees at Consumers Energy

When it comes to workforce development, Consumers Energy (CE) tries to keep all of its bases covered. That's why the company launched two programs that aim at both ends of the workforce pipeline: Raising awareness of potential energy careers among high school students, and deepening the understanding of the energy business for veteran employees.


Telling high school students about their career options at a job fair can only go so far. But showing them what it's like from the inside gives them a much broader understanding of what it would be like to work in the industry. So CE developed its “Options” program, which invites high school sophomores to spend eight weeks during the summer learning about and working for the company. The program also teaches students what it takes to succeed in life in general.

This paid co-op assignment runs three days per week during the summer months, combining a classroom environment with an actual job assignment and mentoring at CE. Twelve students were selected for the program from a list of 39 recommended by Jackson High School, located in the same Michigan community as CE's corporate headquarters. While the program does not take students out in the field at this age, they are exposed to a wide range of opportunities within the company, then given jobs to do in an office or lab environment.

The program – a collaborative effort between CE, Junior Achievement, local public schools and the intermediate school district – also teaches students about ethics and how to communicate with and relate to others, skills the teens can use both in and outside the work environment.

“We really wanted to give back to the community,” Program Manager Mattie McKinney said. “Team work, ethics, interpersonal skills, these are things the students can use no matter what they decide to do with their lives.”

McKinney said the students would be invited back again next year and given increased exposure and opportunities to work within the company as they get older. Ultimately, CE hopes some may one day assume entry-level positions.

“We're looking at preparing them for entry level positions both in our professional and nonprofessional ranks,” McKinney said. “Not all students want a traditional four-year degree. Our thought is that by reaching out to them earlier, we hope to give the kids the exposure they need to increase their career options.”

"Leadership Pipeline"

CE has developed a different type of workforce development program, aimed at people needing broader exposure to the business and the industry. This 18-24 month program, called CE Utility Institute, works through a partnership with the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

“We have targeted certain jobs, managers and senior professionals to receive instruction that will help them increase their knowledge of the business and also the utility industry overall,” McKinney said.

Company officers identify employees they believe will benefit from the program, she said. University faculty as well as internal company experts instruct the classes on-site.

The program focuses on several areas: the energy industry; the customer; utility finance and accounting; operations; human resources; and managing change.

“We spend a lot of time training line workers, but we've also realized over the years that we need to invest more in our managers and other professionals as well,” she said. “With the aging workforce and potential retirements, we need a way to continue replenishing the knowledge base. Not just the technical aspect, but their business and leadership skills also.”

Plugged In

Need Help with Workforce Development? Don't Miss this Summit

Register Online

It's not too late to register for the 2007 CEWD Summit, Roadmap to Success , being held Oct. 22-24 in Kansas City, MO. Learn about member best practices, innovative funding for new programs and partnerships, branding energy careers, and how to attract that new breed of young worker known as the Millennial! If you work in human resources, community relations, utility operations, or technical training for an electric, natural gas or nuclear power company, this summit is for you! Union representatives, career and technical educators, and members of workforce investment boards will also benefit from attending this summit.

Register Online today.  To view a detailed schedule, go to www.cewd.org .

The Power Source

Grant Writing Tool Kit Now Available to Members

Have you been approached by a community college that wants to help train tomorrow's energy workers? Do you have a unique idea for bringing industry, education and the local workforce together in your community? Then you should consider applying for a Federal grant!

If the idea sounds daunting, CEWD can help. We've developed a tool kit for members that includes everything you need to put together a successful grant application: A questionnaire to help you decide whether a grant application makes sense for your program; tips for developing and writing a successful grant proposal; a task list; a description of pertinent Federal forms; even details such as a checklist of important information to include in your cover page.

Grants can provide critical funding to help you join forces with local educational institutions and workforce boards so you can make the most of resources in your area. For more information on how to put together winning grant proposals, Download the Grant Writing tool kit from the Education & Program Development page in the Members Only section of the site.

Get Into Energy Information

Get Into Energy is a monthly e-mail newsletter for CEWD members. To change your email address for this newsletter or to subscribe/unsubscribe, contact staff@cewd.org. For information on membership, please contact us at staff@cewd.org. Visit CEWD on the web at www.cewd.org.

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