To address America’s top priority, creating more jobs, Susan N. Story, president and chief executive officer, Southern Company Services, Inc., offered introductory remarks at the policy summit “Powering America's Future By Empowering Workers,” hosted by National Journal Live.
In addressing nearly 150 leaders from businesses, think tanks, federal and state governments, non-profits, and academia, Story said that “many U.S. companies, including those in the energy industry, are actively creating programs and partnerships which enable a diverse population of potential employees to get the necessary skills they need to successfully compete for good jobs. We’re providing numerous opportunities for people to gain the skills and training necessary to be part of the workforce of the future.
“A great example is CEWD, the Center for Energy Workforce Development. The nation’s electric, natural gas and nuclear utilities and their associations - Edison Electric Institute, American Gas Association, Nuclear Energy Institute, and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association - formed CEWD in 2006. Its goal was to deal with the reality that more than one-third of the total workforce at our nation’s electric and gas utilities—about 200,000 jobs—could become available in the sector from employees retiring or attrition in the next five to ten years.” Story explained that CEWD is now building the alliances, processes, and tools to develop tomorrow’s energy workforce.
“A number of CEWD’s initiatives are rapidly delivering results,” said Story. These include:
• Get Into Energy Career Pathways—This initiative is building awareness among students, parents, teachers, guidance counselors and others about career opportunities available in the energy industry. It’s entering the implementation phase in nine states, involving 32 utilities and 41 secondary and post-secondary education institutions. There is a special focus within this effort on youth, low-income young adults, and “transitioning” adults, along with veterans and women as noted below.
• Troops to Energy Jobs—The goal is to speed up—and streamline—the process of moving from the front lines to the power lines. Six utilities are serving as pilot programs, and another 12 are sponsoring this program to create a pathway for military personnel to transition from the service into civilian careers in the energy field.
• Women in Energy Jobs—CEWD is launching this exciting initiative this year to bring more women into energy careers.
• Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary of Employment and Training Administration, Department of Labor
• Alice A. Cobb, Senior Vice President, Human Resources & IT, NV Energy
• Clay Goodman, Ph.D., Vice President, Occupational Education, Estrella Mountain Community College
• Nicole Smith, Ph. D., Senior Economist, The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
• Tom Tarantino, Chief Policy Officer, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans