DTE Energy, Consumers Energy and the Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL) partnered to provide Michigan students an up-close look at vibrant career paths with the fourth annual Careers in Energy Week, proclaimed Oct. 16-20 by Gov. Rick Snyder.
More than 99,000 Michiganders have energy-related jobs, and the Michigan Workforce Development Agency estimates energy jobs will grow by 9 percent through 2024. At the same time, as many as 50 percent of workers in Michigan's utility sector will be eligible to retire within the next decade.
"There is incredible demand for skilled trade professionals in Michigan's energy industry," said Tracy DiSanto, DTE Energy manager, Workforce Planning and Analytics, and co-chair of the Michigan Energy Workforce Development Consortium (MEWDC). "Yet many students aren't exposed to the high-potential and rewarding career options our industry offers.
"During Careers in Energy Week, one of our aims is to change that, to help students gain a mental map of the many careers available to them in the energy industry," DiSanto said.
Michigan energy companies have hired more than 2,500 employees since January 2016 and there are more than 1,800 new energy company jobs in Michigan each year. At the same time, this year, DTE Energy, Consumers Energy and BWL will collectively provide nearly 1,000 internship and co-op jobs for high school and college students to help build the talent pipeline.
Throughout the week, the partnership focused on sparking interest in these opportunities through educational, hands-on events, including:
- Interactive student tours of DTE Energy, Consumers Energy and Lansing Board of Water & Light training facilities, giving students hands-on experience with skill-based energy careers. This year features visits at nine training facilities throughout the state.
- Distribution of Take Action energy efficiency kits to elementary and secondary school students to facilitate conversations around the energy industry, safety and energy efficiency.
- College recruitment across Michigan for co-ops, internships and full-time positions.
- In partnership with the MEWDC, the energy companies launched the first-ever statewide welding competition for Career Technical Education welding programs at all Michigan high schools. The high schoolers were challenged to create a Michigan- and energy-themed metal structure, judged by welders in the industry. The winning team/individual took home a cash prize, with the top three earning a new welding machine for their school.
"A strong talent pipeline is key to building and sustaining Michigan's energy industry," said Amber Fogarty, learning facilitator for Consumers Energy and Career Awareness Task Force Lead for the MEWDC. "Careers in Energy Week is all about generating excitement for jobs in an often-overlooked industry, and creating meaningful career pathways for students."
The Michigan Energy Workforce Development Consortium is an industry-led partnership of more than 50 organizations dedicated to addressing current and future workforce issues that are crucial to building and sustaining Michigan's energy industry. MEWDC recently created Michigan's 17th career cluster in energy, enabling high schools and community colleges to incorporate energy-related courses in their curriculum. DTE Energy and Consumers Energy support energy education efforts at schools and nonprofit groups through annual Foundation contributions of more than $5.5 million.