PUC Hosts November 8 #UtilityCareers Veterans Job Fair in Harrisburg

Authored By: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

Joins Utilities & State Agencies Encouraging Skilled Candidates to Consider Opportunities

As part of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC’s) ongoing #UtilityCareers campaign, and as part of the PUC’s recognition of veterans during the month of November, the Commission is joining with utilities and other state agencies to host a veterans’ job fair event in Harrisburg.

The #UtilityCareers event is scheduled for Thursday, November 8, from 11 AM-2:00 PM in the atrium of the Commonwealth Keystone Building, 400 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120.  The event is free and open to the public. Interested job-seekers are encouraged to visit the event to speak directly with utility and agency recruiters and human resources specialists.

“We are surrounded by #UtilityCareers opportunities, but they often ‘hide in plain sight’ because job-seekers are unaware of the options available to them or unsure who to contact,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “Connecting veterans and other skilled candidates with these jobs – which offer good wages, growth opportunities and the chance to make a difference in our communities – benefits us all.”

The November 8th #UtilityCareers event will feature career information from Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Duquesne Light, FirstEnergy, Pennsylvania American Water, PPL Electric Utilities, Shipley Energy, SUEZ Water, UGI Utilities, the Pennsylvania Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the PUC.

Veterans and #UtilityCareers

Pennsylvania ranks #8 in the nation in the number of veterans between 18 and 64 years old, and the state’s workforce includes 266,000 veterans. Still, there are concerns about unemployment, with about 13,000 state veterans currently without work – and others who may be struggling to find the right civilian-sector job for themselves or their families.

“First and foremost, our veterans have already made a tremendous contribution to keeping our nation safe and secure – and veterans play a strong role in our public utilities and overall labor force,” noted Chairman Brown. “These men and women are disciplined, mission driven, safety focused, community oriented and understand the critical nature of utility services.”

Nationally, there are about 200,000 men and women transitioning from the military to civilian work every year – which means there is a substantial group of skilled candidates looking for opportunities. Additionally, one of the top classifications for service members looking for work in the private sector is “Engineering, Science and Technical,” which fits very well with some of the utility industry jobs that are in highest demand.

Working together with agencies and utilities across the state, and in conjunction with a task force created by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), several issues have been identified:

  • The need for enhanced communication, especially helping veterans and potential employers better understand each other;
  • “Translating” how military skills and classifications are described, to better link them to positions and needs of the civilian sector;
  • Greater information-sharing about job openings;
  • Highlighting various training and apprenticeship programs; and,
  • Identifying ways to promote Pennsylvania opportunities on a regional and national level.

The other part of this equation is helping veterans, along with other job-seekers, understand the career potential of working in the utility sector. 

Strong Need for Skilled Workers

Chairman Brown noted that across Pennsylvania, and throughout the country, there is a strong anticipated need for skilled utility workers, driven by a combination of factors – including an aging current workforce as well as the growth of new systems and technologies.

In Pennsylvania, utility employment is growing faster and wages are substantially higher than statewide averages. The number of jobs in the utility sector has increased by more than 11 percent over the past five years, which is five times the job growth for all industries across the state – and the average utility wage in Pennsylvania is just over $93,000 per year, which is nearly twice the average wage for all industries.

“For a new generation searching for opportunities to start their careers – as well as other skilled candidates, like our returning veterans looking for new possibilities – utilities represent tens-of-thousands of community-oriented jobs, combining good wages with the satisfaction of knowing that you are serving your neighbors,” said Chairman Brown.

Nationally, utilities are expected to hire an additional 70,000 workers by 2020, and growth in the energy sector alone is expected to create an estimated 1.5 million jobs by 2030.

The statewide and national appetite for utility skills includes:

  • Engineers;
  • Field operations, including the people who maintain existing systems and build-out new systems;
  • Plant operators, who keep the energy and water flowing to our communities; and,
  • Various technical positions, including relatively new areas of concern, like Cybersecurity.

PUC #UtilityCareers Campaign

The PUC’s #UtilityCareers initiative is a collaborative effort by the PUC, public utilities and educational institutions to increase public awareness about career opportunities in the utility sector. The PUC is working with institutions and agencies statewide to spotlight the options available for young people still considering careers, and for those searching for new opportunities.

As part of the effort to increase access to information, the PUC has established a #UtilityCareers microsite to highlight information about job opportunities and provide access to information about the spectrum of utility jobs across the state.

“This is an issue that goes far beyond one agency or utility. It’s an issue that has the potential to impact us all, in terms of the reliability and cost of utility service,” said Chairman Brown. “These are systems and people we depend upon to keep our communities safe and healthy, and it is important that we do what we can to ensure that our utilities have the skilled personnel they need to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.”