Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has launched PG&E PowerPathway -- a new workforce development program aimed at recruiting and training skilled craftworkers and technicians. Developed in partnership with local community colleges, Job Corps, and local governments, the program will prepare individuals for high-paying careers in the energy sector and provide PG&E with a reliable supply of skilled employees.

"Well trained and qualified technical employees are at the heart of providing our customers with world class customer service," said Bill Morrow, president and chief executive officer for Pacific Gas and Electric Co.. "The PowerPathway program works directly with local organizations to identify and train individuals who want to build a career and give back to the communities we serve, much like the successes we are seeing with the City-Build program in San Francisco."

Through the PowerPathway program, PG&E will be hiring utility workers and apprentice lineworkers, apprentice electrical technicians, apprentice instrument technicians, apprentice welders, and equipment/field mechanics. In addition to earning competitive wages, all participating employees will be eligible for PG&E's benefits plan.

PowerPathway courses are designed for a variety of existing skill and knowledge levels and fall into one of the following categories:

  • Full Bridge: For participants with limited or no prior related work experience, courses totaling 200-300 community college credit hours will introduce applicants to the energy industry's jobs and prepare them for PG&E's pre-employment tests. Courses are held during normal weekday hours.
  • Intensive Bridge: For those with some related work experience, 100-150 hours of community college credits provide sufficient preparation. Classes are held in the evening and on weekends to accommodate work schedules and focus specifically on preparation for PG&E's pre-employment tests.
  • Capstone Course: For participants with formal related training, who have completed a prerequisite AA or certificate, courses totaling 250-300 community college credit hours focus on skills specific to PG&E's needs.

Initial courses in 2008 will be offered in three locations: San Francisco/Oakland, San Mateo/San Jose and Fresno. Community colleges there will develop and provide customized training. Participating community colleges include City College of San Francisco, Laney College, Fresno City College, College of San Mateo, and Butte Community College. State, federal and PG&E Foundation grants cover most course tuition.

PG&E is also partnering with local workforce investment boards and community-based organizations with a role in economic development to identify, assess, screen or case-manage potential PowerPathway applicants. Current members of the outreach and referral network include GP Growth Sector, the Fresno Workforce Investment Board, Job Corps Treasure Island, San Francisco Workforce Investment Board, and the San Mateo Workforce Investment Board.

"PG&E's commitment to supporting the training and development of trainees enrolled in the Job Corps Program is unmatched," said Benjie Williams, center director for Job Corps Treasure Island. "I've been so impressed with the partnership and what it means for the future of so many young students. When industry and training programs come together it means we are serving youth and making a change."

The PowerPathway program is designed to bring candidates into the company to position them for PG&E's current apprentice lineworker program. PG&E's apprentice lineworker program trains employees for three years and has an 80 percent graduation rate. The program started in 2001 and now has 400 apprentices in the pipeline, with the goal of adding 115-120 new lineworkers per year. For more about PG&E's apprentice lineworker training program please visit http://www.hr/lineman/.