Magazine article Workforce Management

Public Service Enterprise Group

Magazine article Workforce Management

Public Service Enterprise Group

Article excerpt

THE NEW JERSEY ENERGY AND ENERGY SERVICES PROVIDER PARTNERS WITH COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND HIGH SCHOOLS FOR TRAINING TO FILL ITS TECHNICAL TRADE PIPELINE.

Six years ago, Public Service Enterprise Group, a $28 billion energy and energy services company in New Jersey, suddenly realized that more than 25 percent of its employees could retire within five to seven years, and the pipeline of new replacement workers was echoingIy empty.

The soon-to-retire employees would take with them valuable and hardto-replace technical trade skills. Relay technicians, specialty power company welders and nuclear power plant operators require three to four years of formai training plus on-the-job experience before they are ready for the positions.

Ramping up hiring wasn't feasible because too many employees could retire all at once. New Jersey's job market was highly competitive, and utility jobs weren't even on the radar for most young people. Candidates who walked through PSEG's door lacked bask math, science and work-readiness competence, to say nothing of the highly technical skills the company needed.

PSEG's solution was to partner with Mercer Community College to establish a program of i?-class instruction, internships and on-thejob training in utility work. "We wanted to create the idea of working in energy as a career with good, high-paying jobs," says Rosa Schmidt, employee engagement and outreach manager. "We picked community colleges in urban areas to increase diversity, since that's the population we serve."

Mercer Community College lacked courses for the new program. "We took five of our own internal PSEG training programs and had them approved for college credit," says Margaret "Peggy" Pego, senior vice president for HR and chief human resources officer. "The college didn't have the technicaf talent on hand for teaching, so it hired some PSEG retirees."

Although there were some challenges in persuading the college to partner with PSEG, the bigger challenges initially were internal ones. Engaging PSEG's technical training people in curriculum development sold them on the plan, but the field managers who would take on the interns and train them were tough. …

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