The Center for Energy Workforce Development and the U.S. Army Reserve have agreed to work together to help reservists and returning servicemen and women pursue careers within the energy industry. The collaboration was made official last month with the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the leaders of the two organizations.

Ralph Izzo, head of CEWD and chairman, president and CEO of New Jersey-based PSEG, says that the timing of the collaboration is good. "With older workers retiring and utility work demands multiplying exponentially, opportunities for careers within the energy industry are expanding," Izzo said.

Izzo said impending retirements among high-impact workers - including engineers, line workers, plant operators and technicians - are going to place a premium on skilled workers like those in the reserves and those returning from military service overseas. He said new jobs also will be created by expected infrastructure improvements and increasing utilization of energy efficiency programs, development of greater renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, and the advent of the "smart grid" -- whereby the nation's electricity system becomes increasingly automated and computerized.

"We must have skilled workers for those jobs, and we know that military careers produce skilled workers," Izzo said.

Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief, Army Reserve and commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command, said, "Even in the current economic situation we still have a lot of employers out there that are calling us every day. What employers are telling us is when they hire a Reserve Soldier, they don't just get an employee, they get somebody that has a great work ethic, that has integrity, that has loyalty, that has dedication, and the productivity goes up. So it's a win-win situation for both of us now."

Through its Employer Partnership Initiative, the Army Reserve has been working to facilitate strategic and mutually beneficial relationships with employers and associations. Reserve members are well trained in a variety of skills critical to maintaining not only the strength and agility of the United States Army, but also the many industries and public agencies that form the backbone of the American economy.