COMMENTARY: Skilled workforce is key for utilities

CourierPostOnline.com 
12:07 a.m. EDT October 19, 2016

New Jersey’s investor-owned utility companies provide critical services to the residents and businesses of New Jersey. We keep the lights on, provide clean and safe water, and ensure homes and businesses are warm when the weather turns cold. 

But what keeps the utilities operating are thousands of New Jersey men and women who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure our services are reliable and resilient.

Like many industries, an aging workforce, changing technology and a host of other factors have impacted the industry’s access to a skilled workforce. According to the Center for Energy Workforce Development, a nonprofit consortium of energy utilities, nearly 55 percent of the electric and natural gas utility workforce may need to be replaced in the next decade due to retirements, and similar trends are evident in other utility sectors.

That’s why the New Jersey Utilities Association and its 15 member utility companies are recognizing the third week of October as New Jersey Careers in Utilities Week. Established through a joint resolution unanimously approved by both houses of the New Jersey Legislature, the week coincides with the CEWD’s Careers in Energy Week and was developed to raise awareness of the wide variety of employment opportunities that exist at all education and experience levels in the utility industry.

Employment in the utility industry offers stable, well-paying work that provides employees the opportunity to have a hand in building and running some of the most critical infrastructure in our state and nation. Utilities work diligently to train employees for career advancement and opportunity. We value the dedication of our workforce, and we in turn are dedicated to them.

New Jersey Careers in Utilities Week acknowledges the more than 28,000 service-minded men and women employed by New Jersey’s investor-owned utilities. When Mother Nature strikes, it is utility workers who respond in often challenging conditions, ensuring that the scene is safe for police, fire and other first responders and that customers have access to the utility services they have come to rely upon.

From customer service representatives and human resources professionals to engineers and line workers, these dedicated people maintain, operate and support the $37 billion in critical infrastructure that serves New Jersey residents and businesses 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Utility companies that call New Jersey home are currently reaching out to residents of all ages via apprenticeship programs, partnerships with local colleges and vocational schools and collaborative training programs to educate New Jerseyans on the employment opportunities that exist within our industry.

As we recognize New Jersey Careers in Utilities Week, I encourage all New Jersey residents to not only show their support but actively raise awareness for our valued utility workers. For those who may be interested in exploring a career in the utilities sector, reach out to our member companies to learn about the many opportunities currently available.

Andrew Hendry is president and CEO of the New Jersey Utilities Association.

(http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/opinion/columnists/2016/10/19/commentary-skilled-workforce-key-utilities/92381744/

 

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