Inspired by PG&E’s Support of Veteran Hiring, HIRE Vets Act Becomes Law

by Tony Khing

The Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act of 2017, inspired by PG&E’s long-standing support of employing and retaining veterans, was signed into law by President Trump on May 5.

Known as the HIRE Vets Act, the legislation, sponsored by Congressman Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley), a retired Marine Col., establishes a national certification standard that gives employers a benchmark for measuring their progress in veteran hiring against other companies.

“This is a big win for veterans and the companies and unions who are truly making an effort to attract and hire more veterans. We’ll be able to see which companies truly live up to the employment promises they make to veterans. Veterans who serve this country honorably shouldn’t struggle to find employment. This bill creates an innovative system to encourage and recognize employers who make veterans a priority in their hiring practices,” said Cook.

“As a nation, we need to make sure that those who’ve proudly served our country have access to career opportunities when returning to civilian life. The HIRE Vets Act will encourage companies to hire more men and women who’ve proudly served our country and recognize those who’ve provided them with a supportive work environment,” said PG&E’s John Simon, executive vice president and general counsel.

“Companies like PG&E, who provide careers to our military veterans and who’ve honorably served our country, should be recognized by the Department of Labor. Veterans are a great fit for our company and our union. Their dedication to service, work ethic, and understanding of safety make them perfect candidates for providing energy service to the 16 million Californians we serve,” said Bob Dean, assistant business manager for IBEW Local 1245 and a Navy veteran.

The HIRE Vets Act calls for two levels of annual awards that will be given to companies with 500 or more employees. The awards and the criteria are:

Gold HIRE Vets Medallion Award

  • Veterans hiring in a calendar year isn’t less than seven percent of all employees hired;
  • At least 75 percent of veterans hired in the previous calendar year have been retained for at least 12 months from the date of hire;
  • The employer has an employee veteran association or employee resource group which assists veteran employees upon entering the company;
  • The employer has programs which enhance leadership skills for veteran employees.

Platinum HIRE Vets Medallion Award

  • Veterans hiring in a calendar year isn’t less than 10 percent of all employees hired;
  • At least 85 percent of veterans hired in the previous calendar year have been retained for at least 12 months from the date of hire;
  • The employer has human resources professionals who support hiring, retention and training of veterans;
  • The employer compensates employees serving in the U.S. National Guard or Reserve at a combined level equal to their monthly civilian salary;
  • The employer has a tuition assistance program for veterans interested in taking postsecondary education.

Awards will also be given to small- and medium-sized companies.

PG&E’s endorsement of veterans dates back to World War I. The company has a strong commitment to veterans, as evidenced by its “1,000 Careers Project,” a long-term program with the goal of hiring 1,000 veterans into PG&E careers over the next eight years. Since the program’s inception, PG&E has hired 455 veterans — close to half of its goal in nearly two years.

In addition, the company’s PowerPathway training program, aimed at developing the next generation of the utility workforce, has graduated 850 students — including nearly 500 veterans. Among PowerPathway’s accomplishments over the last two years: creating a new program with transitioning military personnel, employing its first active service member who participated in the program and its first direct-to-hire class for customer service representatives.

PG&E’s also has a Veterans Employee Resource Group, formed in 2011 to help educate, support and develop company employees with military experience, as well as their supporters. More than 1,100 employees have joined the group.

Article originally posted on PG&E Currents.


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PG&E, Sentinels of Freedom, Sonoma Raceway Partner for Military Career Day

by Tony Khing

PG&E, Sentinels of Freedom and Sonoma Raceway will join forces to play hosts to the third Military Career Day at the raceway’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend on June 23.

The event will include workshops, panel presentations and a job fair featuring more than 40 Bay Area companies. In addition, the career day will include a Q&A with NASCAR driver and active U.S. Navy Lt. Jesse Iwuji.

To highlight PG&E’s 1,000 Careers Project and its commitment to hire 1,000 veterans by 2023, PG&E is partnering with Sentinels of Freedom, a nationwide nonprofit that helps severely wounded and injured post-9/11 veterans in successfully completing higher education and finding career-focused employment.

“Veterans, especially those with a service-related disability, may need help transitioning into long-term civilian careers. We’re proud to sponsor the third Military Career Day at Sonoma Raceway as part of our continuing support of veterans,” said Mary King, PG&E’s vice president of human resources, a member of the board of directors for Sentinels of Freedom and a former Army Captain.

“We thank PG&E, Sonoma Raceway, NASCAR, and all Americans that support our most valuable national treasure — our veterans,” said Mike Conklin, Sentinels of Freedom Chairman and CEO. “This event is an incredible opportunity for veterans to take that next step into finding long-term success.”

Sentinels of Freedom is assisting PG&E in recruiting Bay Area employers for the event. Previously, PG&E and Sentinels of Freedom have co-sponsored student veteran resource centers at San Francisco State University, College of Alameda and Los Medanos College in Pittsburg. The centers provide resources about military benefits, a peaceful place to study, and networking opportunities for veterans.

The Career Day is open to all active, guard, reserve, veterans, and military spouses. The focus will be on translating the skill sets of military members transitioning to the job market, and include information on non-traditional careers for veterans with disabilities. The event will be held in a hospitality chalet located above Turn 2 of the road course from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The first 200 Career Day participants will be admitted free to the raceway on June 23. They will also receive two reserved seat tickets to the Toyota/Save Mart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on June 25. Job seekers must pre-register on the Sonoma Raceway website.

Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a career-building workshop that will concentrate on resume building and how to succeed in job interviews. The workshop will also include a leadership panel which will focus on veterans with disabilities thriving in new careers. Employers participating in the Career Day are from various fields including the utility, health care, law enforcement, and chemical industries.

PG&E’s long-standing support of veterans

PG&E’s endorsement of veterans dates back to World War I. The company has a strong commitment to veterans, as evidenced by its “1,000 Careers Project,” a long-term program with the goal of hiring 1,000 veterans into PG&E careers over the next eight years. Since the program’s inception, PG&E has hired 455 veterans — close to half of its goal in nearly two years.

Other ways PG&E supports veterans include:

  • PowerPathway: This energy-industry training program debuted in 2008 to develop the next generation of the utility industry workforce. In almost a decade, 850 have graduated — including nearly 500 veterans. Among PowerPathway’s accomplishments over the last two years: creating a new program with transitioning military personnel, employing its first active service member who participated in the program and its first direct-to-hire class for customer service representatives.
  • Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve: PG&E has received numerous honors from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense office that develops and maintains employer support for National Guard and Reserve service. In 2016, the company received the Extraordinary Employer Support Award for its sustained support of National Guard and Reserve service.
  • Military Times: For the first time in the seven-year history of the list, PG&E was named as one of the “Best for Vets: Employers” in 2016.
  • Military-friendly employer: For five straight years, PG&E has been recognized as a Top-100 Military Friendly Employer by G.I. Jobs Magazine. In addition, the company was named as a 2017 Military Friendly Spouse Employer by Military Spouse Magazine.
  • Working with veteran businesses: Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBE) members are major business partners with PG&E. The company spent an all-time high of $224 million with DVBEs in 2016. The DVBE spend was part of a record $2.85 billion spend with diverse suppliers last year.
  • Employee Resource Group: Established in 2011, the organization helps educate, support and develop PG&E employees with military experience, as well as their supporters. Now in its sixth year, more than 1,100 employees have joined the group.

Article originally posted on PG&E Currents.


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Cool Jobs: Marine Biologist’s Work Critical To Diablo Canyon Power Plant’s Safe Operation

Jim Kelly has been a marine biologist at Diablo Canyon Power Plant nearly four decades and has seen his share of storms hit California’s Central Coast.

Jim’s work, along with daily PG&E weather forecasts, is the bridge between nature and engineering that helps Diablo operate safely and efficiently. He monitors the aquatic ecosystems along a 14-mile stretch of coastline that borders the plant.

This year, with powerful El Niño-driven storms forecasted, his work is even more critical. “What El Niño does is create more and bigger storms. It is creating several wave events for us to deal with one after another,” says Jim.

He uses a computer modeling program to forecast ocean swells that could affect the flow of seawater used for coolant at the plant. Powerful Pacific storms dredge up all sorts of debris that have the potential to foul Diablo Canyon’s seawater cooling system. So in addition to protecting the thriving marine ecosystem in Diablo Cove, he’s also protecting a system vital to plant operation.

Even though the Central Coast has not been hit with ferocious Pacific storms this year, it has taken a pounding with powerful waves. This is why Jim has been closely monitoring weather and waves to provide plant operators important information for Diablo’s daily operation.

Years of mild winters allowed coastal kelp to grow unchecked by nature. December storms broke much of that kelp loose requiring cleanup of equipment to get the plant operating at peak efficiency and adding impetus to the high swell advisories Jim issues for the plant.

“I could retire at any time, but I love my job. There is always something that keeps it interesting. The plant is engineering and physics. It’s all pretty much nailed down. It’s black and white. The ocean is not. The ocean is a lot of grey and multi-varied factors that affect things like our power plant,” he says.


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