New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has declared Oct. 12 -Oct. 19 “Careers in Energy Week,” to mark the many programs and resources New York offers to help individuals, including those retired or returning from the military, to embark on careers in the energy industry. The week is also about spreading the message that energy is a field in need of highly skilled and talented workers.
Nearly one-third of utility workers are eligible to retire in the next five to seven years. To help fill the looming jobs gap, Governor Cuomo last year launched the New York Troops to Energy initiative to catalyze the re-entry of veterans into the utility industry. Led by the New York Power Authority, a consortium that includes Central Hudson Gas and Electric, Con Edison, Iberdola USA, National Grid, PSEG Long Island, the Department of Public Service, and the New York Division of Veterans’ Affairs, implemented an aggressive plan to train and hire returning veterans for good-paying jobs.
“Hiring and retaining veterans is the ultimate goal of the Troops to Energy Initiative,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “To achieve these essential goals, we must take the necessary steps to ensure that our vets are set up for success from the outset by providing an infrastructure of educational and training resources.”
Results from the initiative have exceeded expectations. More than 300 veterans have been hired statewide. The jobs range from engineers, linemen and system technicians and operators, to corporate support and customer service, information technology and analysts, and finance. Vets are represented in both entry level and management positions.
Governor Cuomo has made integrating more veterans into the workforce a priority. The New York National Guard's Job Zone Program and Employment Initiative Program help New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen refine their resumes while providing them with information on employers who want to hire veterans and Guard members. The Job Zone Program also works to help employers understand the skill-sets that veterans and Guard soldiers and airmen bring to their business.
The success of Troops to Energy can also be measured in the steps that have been taken to ensure that vets have the support and services they need to enable them to reach their maximum career potential. Members of the consortium are working with the State University of New York to identify energy-related programs at community colleges and universities that provide an educational bridge to utility jobs. Utilities are also collaborating with military bases to develop energy “boot camps” that prepare vets for industry jobs prior to their discharge.