Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will offer two new training courses for recently discharged veterans next year that will provide a career path into the energy industry through the utility's PowerPathway program.

PG&E is offering the veterans-only energy training courses at American River College in Sacramento, part of the company's commitment to helping recently discharged veterans find work and to growing a pipeline of skilled utility workers. PG&E expects more than 40 percent of its workforce will be retirement-eligible within the next five years and believes veterans can be high-potential candidates for these positions.

As a former officer in the U.S. Navy, PG&E Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley is committed to creating career paths for veterans. "Unemployment rates are as high as 29 percent for young veterans – about 65 percent above those for other Americans in the same age group," Earley said. "PG&E has the opportunity to match our workforce needs with the great technical skills and leadership ability that veterans offer."

In addition to veterans-only courses, PowerPathway partners with community colleges, universities and community-based training organizations throughout Northern and Central California to offer other industry-related courses that are open to all qualified candidates.

As part of its commitment to the White House's Joining Forces initiative, PG&E has set a goal for PowerPathway to provide career and technical training to approximately 250 California residents, including 100 veterans, and place about two-thirds of those into energy and utility industry jobs through 2013.

"Taking care of our veterans is a sacred duty that we must never turn from," said Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento). "As these brave men and women transition to civilian life, both the public and private sector must ensure our veterans have the support they need, and that includes educational and job opportunities. The energy training course being offered by PG&E will help our veterans find good paying jobs and will provide an ever-growing job sector with a highly skilled workforce."

The PowerPathway Bridge to Utility Worker for Veterans course offers 240 hours of training designed to strengthen participants' candidacy for employment and increase their knowledge of the energy and utility industries, including pre-employment test preparation and soft skills development. The course will begin in January 2013.

The PowerPathway Welding for Veterans course provides fundamental training on the pipe-welding techniques and safety procedures unique to the utilities industry. The course will begin in May 2013. Both veterans-only programs are being funded through a California Employment Development Department grant to the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency, one of several PG&E workforce development partners.

PG&E has already successfully completed six veterans-only Bridge to Utility Worker courses. Through 2011, nearly 150 former military personnel have been trained through the Bridge to Pre-Apprentice/Utility Worker and Bridge to Utility Equipment Mechanic programs at Fresno City College, City College of San Francisco and American River College in Sacramento. Approximately 72 percent of those trained have been hired by PG&E and other companies in the energy industry.

A schedule of PowerPathway programs that will be open to new enrollment in 2013—at nine community colleges, universities and community-based training organizations throughout Northern and Central California—can be viewed at www.pge.com/powerpathway.