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AEP holds kickoff meeting of Troops to Energy Jobs Pathway Project

by on October 3, 2011

AEP hosted a meeting Sept. 21 to set goals and action plans among stakeholders for a pilot of the Troops to Energy Jobs Pathway Project.

Troops to Energy Jobs is a two-year pilot effort to link and prepare veterans leaving military service, as well as National Guard and Reserve members, to job openings in the energy industry. AEP is participating in the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) program along with Arizona Public Service Co., Dominion, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern Co.

Barbara Radous, AEP senior vice president – Shared Services, spoke to the group of about 30 representatives from AEP and other electric utilities, electric contractors, educational institutions, military veterans agencies and non-profit organizations.

“Utilities are a great fit for military veterans,” Radous said. “AEP has many veterans in our work force, and I can’t say enough about them – they serve us extremely well. We want to do all we can to help more of our military veterans find good jobs in the energy industry, and we believe this is a program that will help us achieve that goal.”

Joe Cisneros, AEP director – Workplace Diversity, said that while the nation’s unemployment rate continues to hover around 9 percent, the rate is as high as 25 percent among military veterans. “Our goal is simple,” he said. “It’s about what we can do to help find potential employment for returning veterans.

“Each utility has the same issue – they have a significant percentage of their work force retiring within the next five to 10 years,” Cisneros said. “Veterans bring skills that are valuable and highly transferable to the energy industry.”

Rosa Schmidt, program manager for CEWD, said that “the goal of this program is to bring veterans and employers together in a more focused manner, in a process that is easier for the veteran to navigate, and facilitates better identification of qualified job candidates for employers.

“There are so many groups and so many websites out there that it is overwhelming for both veteran job-seekers and potential employers,” Schmidt said. “This program will connect military veterans directly to energy employers.”

Through the one-day workshop, participants gained an understanding of the program, identified potential areas of focus for present and future employment opportunities, became more familiar with each participant’s roles and services, confirmed commitment for future participation, and developed recommendations for moving forward.

The Troops to Energy Jobs Pathways Pilot Project is to include:

  • targeted outreach and support through a career navigation website;
  • career coaching and mentoring;
  • inventorying of competencies and recognition of credentials from military service;
  • accelerated education pathways to support the process that includes college credit for military training, and bridge curriculum; and
  • employer support.

The program website is operational now but is planned to be fully functional to assist veterans at all qualification and job-readiness levels as of Nov. 1.

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