Energy Education Coalition Facilitates Unique Partnership
By Mel Fabrikant Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 04:10 PM EDT
Between Electric Utility and Three Connecticut Community Colleges to Advance Workforce Development in Connecticut
Partnership will provide over $100,000 in scholarships and stipend
assistance to the state’s adult higher education students
The Energy Providers Coalition for Education (EPCE) is proud to announce the launch of a new partnership that addresses workforce development in the electric utilities industry in Connecticut. With over 120,000 utility workers across the country expected to retire in the next few years, employers and higher education institutions are searching for ways to attract new employees with the right qualifications into the industry.
Among those employers and institutions addressing this concern are Northwestern Connecticut, Manchester and Middlesex Community Colleges and Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P), who have signed a four-year agreement investing in educational training, scholarships, and stipends for Connecticut students training for future utilities jobs. The agreement is retroactive to September 2012 and runs through August 2016, dispensing $130,000 in assistance during that time span to community college students attending these institutions.
“Taking a long view of the utility industry, we realized we had a lot of talented students throughout the state ready to move into the field,” says Jane Williams, workforce development coordinator at the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system, which includes the three participating community colleges. “Our community colleges are well-equipped to resolve any future employee gaps in the utilities field, especially as we work with CL&P to develop additional skills needed for a more technologically-driven industry.”
As an example of this unique partnership and in meeting the need for well-trained utility workers throughout Connecticut, Williams cites the introduction of the electric power pathway to the associate’s degree in Technology Studies available at Northwestern Connecticut, Manchester and Middlesex Community Colleges for students who may wish to enter the technology and utilities fields.
“It would be a disservice to our students and our state’s workforce if we didn’t provide the advanced training for students wanting to work in today’s utility industry,” says Williams. “The associate’s degree in Technology Studies is recognition of us meeting that need.”
“The utility industry is facing a major depletion of its workforce and companies like CL&P have to come up with unique ways to replenish this important sector of employees to serve our customers,” said Bill Herdegen, CL&P President and COO. “This partnership is a great opportunity for students to get a head-start on their career path while at the same time helping to fill the critical demand for skilled utility workers.”
In addition to the three community colleges in Connecticut, the CAEL/EPCE national partnership includes Bismarck State College in Bismarck, North Dakota – home to the National Energy Center of Excellence (NECE) – which also confers Associate’s degrees in a variety of energy related subjects. Classes are offered online, with students in Connecticut being eligible to take Bismarck State courses for credit.