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Friends of CTE Blog Series: PG&E Uses Public-Private Partnerships to Address Skilled Candidate Shortage

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

John R. Simon is Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Pacific Gas and Electric Company, one of the largest combination natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. PG&E has 22,000 employees who serve 15 million people throughout a 70,000-square-mile service area in California.

John R. Simon, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Pacific Gas and Electric Company

John R. Simon, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Our customers rely on us to provide safe, reliable and affordable gas and electricity across Northern and Central California. Our workforce is the key to making that happen. Unfortunately, our company is faced with two converging workforce issues: 1) a significant number of employees will need to be replaced due to retirement or attrition over the next five years, and 2) we have a shortage of skilled candidates for our skilled craft jobs. Without a qualified pipeline of candidates ready to join the ranks of PG&E, it will be extremely difficult for us to do our job.

A Unique Model

PG&E has taken this matter into our own hands by creating PowerPathway a collaborative workforce development model built upon the public-private partnerships between PG&E, California community colleges and universities, community-based training organizations, the public workforce development system, unions and other industry employers. At the heart of this model is the need to support the development of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs that meet the workforce needs of PG&E and the utilities industry.

CTE’s Role

The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium’s (NASDCTEc) vision for CTE is partially based on the principal that CTE must actively partner with employers to design and provide high-quality, dynamic programs. With the guidance and partnership of business and industry professionals, CTE can help students understand the realities of the workforce and economy while preparing them to be college and career ready.

In the case of PG&E’s PowerPathway, candidates participate in a 240-hour utilities-industry CTE program. Coursework for the training program includes basic gas and electricity, safety, physical conditioning, math, reading and other employability subjects vital to workplace success. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates receive a certificate of completion from the community college and PG&E’s PowerPathway. These certificates demonstrate that the graduate is a work-ready and competitive candidate for employment within the energy and utilities sector. Note: Some community colleges also offer credit for successful completion of the program.

Successes – The Numbers

PowerPathway started in 2008, graduating about 75 students the first year. Fast forward five years, and we’ll be graduating more than 250 students in 2013. Not only are we scaling our programs, we are consistently placing PowerPathway graduates into industry positions. As of the first quarter of 2012, 71 percent of graduates have been hired into industry positions, a majority with PG&E. The top five jobs in which students have found employment at PG&E are utility worker, apprentice electrician, gas service rep, materials handler and nuclear security guard.

Seventy percent of those hired from the PowerPathway candidate pool progress into apprenticeships or higher job classifications within one year of hire. The rate of retention after six months is also significantly higher for those who have graduated from PowerPathway – 98 percent versus 88 percent for the same skilled craft classifications. In addition, nearly 90 percent of PG&E supervisors who have hired PowerPathway graduates said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their performance.

A Win-Win for All 

By collaborating with CTE and local partners in the community, PG&E has been able to grow a more qualified and career-ready pool of candidates to join our workforce. In addition, building a strong internal brand for PowerPathway programs as a trusted source of quality candidates has been a huge component of sustainability and scalability for our programs. PG&E is a strong proponent of investing in its future workforce, and we’ve found a model that works. You can learn more about PowerPathway at www.pge.com/powerpathway. We encourage all companies to consider leveraging the power of public-private partnerships to advance CTE and strengthen their future pipeline of talent.

 

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Melinda Findley Lloyd, Communications Consultant, at mlloyd@careertech.org.

By Melinda in CTE: Learning that works for America, News
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New Report: Understanding the Skills in the Common Core State Standards

Friday, December 21st, 2012

The Common Core State Standards “provide a strong platform for students to apply and master the skills they need, and as students apply those skills, they have more opportunities to fully master the content within the CCSS,” according to a recent analysis of the standards by Achieve.

The CCSS covers most of the skills in greatest demands by employers, postsecondary institutions and society overall, according to Understanding the Skills in the Common Core State Standards. The report suggests that because the skills — working collectively, thinking critically, communicating effectively solving routine and nonroutine problems, and analyzing information and data – imparted by the CCSS are needed to excel in academic, technical and life settings.

However, the report also does note that “some skills — mostly technical or work-based in nature, such as career planning, ethical reasoning and conflict resolution skills — are simply outside the scope of the mathematics and ELA/literacy CCSS.”

The report identifies the level of preparation all students learning to the CCSS will acquire and offers insight into opportunities for Career Technical Education to help address career-focused skills. Learn more at http://www.achieve.org/skills-ccss.

Erin Uy, Communications & Marketing Manager

 

By Erin in Publications, Research
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Friends of CTE Blog: CTE, Quality Workforce are Needed for Stronger American Businesses

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Roy Schroer is Assistant Vice-President of Human Resources at Union Pacific Railroad, North America’s premier railroad franchise, covering 23 states across the western two-thirds of the United States.

Roy Schroer, Assistant Vice-President of Human Resources, Union Pacific Railroad

Strengthening the Labor Pool

One of America’s most successful and iconic companies, Union Pacific Railroad delivers the goods families and businesses use daily.  Celebrating our 150th anniversary in 2012, we recognize that one of the most vital elements to our success is a quality workforce. The foundation of our workforce has been our ability to recruit top-tier students when they complete their education.

Union Pacific hires college graduates who possess the necessary skill sets to quickly become an asset to the company.  The learning curve is limited for graduates who have the fundamental knowledge needed for their respective positions.  However, we are experiencing a shortage of employees skilled in important trades and crafts taught in Career Technical Education (CTE).

Offer earlier opportunities

High school students – or even younger students – need more opportunities to learn the necessary trade skills to become the next generation of diesel mechanics, industrial engineers and electricians.  Today, students complete high school and face one of two choices: go to college or start looking for a job.  But how do we expect someone with a high school education and no workforce experience to compete in the job market?  It is likely that students with just a high school degree or less will only be able to obtain a low-skilled, and thus low-wage position, to support themselves or their families.

Business and industry recognize that CTE can play a critical role in helping to maintain a pipeline of potential employees for businesses across the nation. CTE options are key to preparing our young students to learn skilled trades, gain valuable work experience and discover what path is most suitable for them.  These education options are beneficial to the future employees, help education systems achieve the goal of producing graduates who will be productive citizens, and will ultimately benefit employers as well.

Win-win solutions      

Companies dedicate significant resources to recruiting, hiring and training new employees, however we experience loss when employees do not enjoy their new job or are not adequately prepared; they leave the position and company.  If students had opportunities to learn about various jobs, trades and crafts during their formal education experience, schools could produce employee candidates who have explored their interests and are better prepared to enter the workforce and succeed. Collaboration between schools and businesses to develop quality CTE programs could address such issues.

For example, Union Pacific Railroad works with local schools through our Direction Recruitment Education and Mentoring (DREAM) program in which employees provide students with career, educational and social guidance.  The mentoring program serves as a vehicle to develop students’ self-esteem and confidence in their personal and career ambitions as they explore the business world.

Providing CTE options to students as early as possible will provide a new stream of job candidates who have a much better understanding of their desired career, which makes for happier, more productive and efficient employees, as well as a deeper and stronger workforce for American businesses.

How can you get involved?

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager at euy@careertech.org.

By Erin in CTE: Learning that works for America, News
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Legislative Update: Appropriations, Election 2012

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Tentative Date Set for Senate Appropriations Markup

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education has tentatively scheduled markup of their FY13 appropriations bill for June 12th.  As we previously reported, the Labor-HHS-Education bill sets a 302(b) funding level of $157.7 billion.

House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee Chairman Dennis Rehberg (MT) previously stated that he does not intend to mark up their bill until after the Supreme Court rules on the status of the Affordable Care Act, which is expected to happen in late June.

Romney Provides Insight into Education Policy

Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Governor Mitt Romney (MA) focused on education this week. On Tuesday he released the names of his team of education policy advisors. You will recognize many of the names from the Bush Administration, including former Secretary of Education Rod Paige, former OVAE Assistant Secretary Carol D’Amico, and former ETA Assistant Secretary Emily DeRocco. A complete list can be found here.

On Wednesday Governor Romney gave a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, setting forth his education policies. The overarching theme of the speech centered on increased parental choice, especially for low-income and special need students, as a way to expand opportunities for students. While he did not mention CTE specifically, he did state, “…[S]ince we live in a twenty-first century economy that increasingly demands a college education, efforts at improvement can’t stop at high school’s end. Students must have access to a wide variety of options that will give them the skills they need for successful careers.”

In a white paper released on Wednesday, A Chance For Every Child: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Restoring the Promise of American Education, Governor Romney laid out more details of this proposed education policies:

K-12 Education

Higher Education

 Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series: Toyota President, CEO Supports CTE as Resource for Employment Opportunities

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Jim Lentz is  President & CEO of Toyota Motor Sales USA.

What’s your edge?  What’s going to separate you from others?  Plain and simple, one of the best ways to stand out is to get great hands-on training and education — everything that Career Technical Education provides.

In this fast-paced world where immediate results are demanded, Toyota needs team members who know their stuff.   Today’s cars contain more than 3,000 parts and are basically computers on wheels.  In fact, some cars have as many as 100 million lines of software code.  You can fill a stack of letter-sized pages the height of a 50-story building with that many codes.

In addition, automobiles have nearly 1,000 times more computing power than the system that guided Apollo astronauts to the moon.  It’s true. Further, even more advanced technologies and electronics are being added to vehicles.  And, since cars are becoming more complex, we’re going to need good people that have the knowledge and the know-how to keep things in tip-top condition.

This is all great news because as the auto industry continues to grow, more and more jobs will be available.  In fact, over the next four years, the industry plans to add 150,000 new jobs.  That’s on top of the 8 million Americans who depend on the auto industry for their livelihoods.

So, having the education and technical experience is critical in the auto business, or almost any field you choose.  At Toyota, we feel so strongly about this that we’ve directly supported college automotive programs through our Technician Training and Education Network (T-TEN) for a quarter century.  We’ve also joined with other automakers to support high school-level programs for more than a decade through Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES).

CTE programs also offer another important opportunity for you to fulfill your dreams. They help you determine how strong your passion is for a given subject. Yes, it’s important to have knowledge and training, but it’s equally important to love what you do.  It makes a difference in your outlook, your attitude and your results.  Generally, passionate, enthusiastic people are more successful in work and life.

That’s why companies today are seeking associates who have three key ingredients:  Knowledge, training and passion.  You’ll find individuals who posses these traits at CTE.  So, if you’re not involved in a CTE program–get involved and do it now!  Good luck and all the best in the future!

How Can You Get Involved?

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, to researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager, at euy@careertech.org.

By Erin in News
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ED Seeks Student Input on Improving Education

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

On February 1, the Department of Education launched the National Education Startup Challenge, asking students to develop innovative, real world solutions to improve education. Students from across the country are invited to submit a business plan and a video pitch for a for-profit or non-profit startup that includes an innovative strategy, product or service designed to address one of these four topics:

Students in grade 6 through postsecondary, as well as out-of-school youth, are eligible to participate. The deadline for submissions is May 1, 2012.

For more information visit the National Education Startup Challenge Web site.

 Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in News
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Legislative Update: House Floor Schedule for FY 2012 Appropriations, House Approves Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act, Committee Report Filed on ESEA Setting New Priorities in Education Act, Bills Introduced

Friday, June 17th, 2011

House Floor Schedule for FY 2012 Appropriations
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) released the House floor schedule for appropriations bills. According to the schedule, Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations will be considered as follows:

• July 26th: Subcommittee markup
• August 2nd: Full committee markup
• Week of September 19th (tentative): Floor

Committee Report Filed on ESEA “Setting New Priorities in Education Act”
A committee report has been filed on H.R. 1891, the Setting New Priorities in Education Act, which would eliminate ineffective or unnecessary education programs to restore focus on successful federal elementary and secondary education programs for disadvantaged students. The report is filed under House Report 112-106.

House Approves Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act
Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC) recently introduced H.R. 2117, the Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act, which would repeal unnecessary credit hour and state authorization regulations to protect institutes and students from excessive burdens.. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved the legislation this week, passing the Committee by a vote of 27 to 11.

Bills Introduced:

Bill to Develop and Support 21st Century Readiness Initiatives
Sen. Kay Hagan (NC) introduced S. 1175, a bill that would develop and support 21st century readiness initiatives to help students acquire skills for problem solving, critical thinking, communication, creativity, teamwork, and innovation.

Graduation Promise Act
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (NM) introduced S. 1177, the Graduation Promise Act (GPA), the first in a package of bills that aims to reform America’s schools by raising academic standards and helping students to achieve them. The GPA would direct funding towards underperforming high schools with the goal of increasing graduation rates and student achievement. In his press release, Bingaman points out that about 25 percent of low-income students in the United States attend high schools, yet less than 10 percent of federal funding for disadvantaged students goes to high schools. The GPA aims to improve this.

By Kara in Legislation, Public Policy
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Department of Labor Technical Skills Training Grants Now Available

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Yesterday, the Department of Labor announced that grant applications for the H-1B Technical Skills Training Grants program are now available. According to a webinar hosted by the Department, the grant program is intended to “raise the technical skill levels of American workers so they can obtain or upgrade employment in high-growth industries and occupations.”

There will be approximately $240 million total available funds, ranging from $1 – $5 million to 75 – 100 grantees. Awards will be made to two categories: those that provide On-the-Job Training (OJT) to all participants and those that use other training strategies. The following awards will be made:

1.)    At least $150 million will be awarded to programs providing OJT to all participants

2.)    Between OJT and other training strategies, at least $45 million will be awarded to applicants that propose training healthcare industry occupations

3.)    Between OJT and other training strategies, at least $60 million will be awarded to applicants that serve long-term unemployed individuals

During the webinar, a Department of Labor speaker stated that proposals in the following areas are of greatest interest: Information Technology, Communications and Broadband Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, and Healthcare.

There will be two rounds of funding: the first round closes June 2, 2011 and the second round closes November 17, 2011.

For more information: Read the solicitation, visit the Department of Labor’s Foreign Labor Certification Data Center website, or view an online “Grants 101” tutorial.

By Kara in News
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ACT Report Presents Workforce Skills Credentialing Framework

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

The shifting economy requires highly-skilled workers in areas of job growth, such as manufacturing, energy, information technology, and health care. But while job vacancies exist, employers continue to report that applicants’ skills do not match those needed to fill the empty positions. ACT, Inc., an education and workplace assessment company, recently released a framework that provides a first step to tackling this mismatch.

ACT’s report proposes the creation of a national credentialing system for workforce skills.

The report suggests reorganizing the credentialing system so that workers’ skills and credentials better align with the needs of industry. This would streamline the current approach by creating a nationally-recognized, stackable credentialing system. ACT suggests that workers begin by earning a “foundational skills credential,” and subsequently layer on more focused, job-specific credentials.

Ideally, implementation of the national workforce skills credentialing system would result in:

Click here to view the full report, Breaking New Ground: Building a National Workforce Skills Credentialing System.

By Kara in News
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