By Karen Reif, VP of Renewables and Energy Solutions at PSEG On Sep 21, 2022
Over the next eight years, experts estimate that New Jersey will need 41,500 new jobs in energy efficiency to meet the state’s ambitious clean energy goals. To help support this effort, PSE&G launched the Clean Energy Jobs program designed to put up to 2,000 people to work in New Jersey’s clean energy sector – many from underrepresented communities.
On-the-job training – just one component of the program – started last November with an emphasis on providing low-to-moderate-income New Jersey residents with the skills they need to sustain careers in the fast-growing energy efficiency sector. The first group graduated in May, and the second group is in progress. In addition to the six-month training course, PSE&G has placed more than 800 others in well-paying jobs. Along with the availability of on-the-job training, the Clean Energy Jobs program provides candidates the opportunity to take advantage of wrap-around services such as child care, transportation and help in resume writing to ensure their success.
The Clean Energy Jobs program is the first-of-its-kind initiative by a utility, and recently earned a national Best Practice award from the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
The Right Partners
Much of the program’s success is due to the contributions of our community partners, who helped us better serve underrepresented communities. We learned to listen to the job candidates and our partners, and quickly incorporate their feedback into the program. They know best what support candidates need and what barriers exist. They also helped us build trust with the community and raise awareness of a career path not typically considered.
To develop the curriculum for the program, PSE&G partnered with industry experts who knew the skills and competencies most needed by energy efficiency employers.
Community organizations helped us recruit candidates for the program and raise awareness of the clean energy economy’s opportunities. Public sector partners like the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development worked with us to find and secure critical support services, like child care assistance and transportation.
An Agile Approach
Developing a program that meets the needs of job candidates and employers in an emerging field like clean energy required us to take an agile approach of listening, experimenting and adapting in real time.
We asked the energy efficiency employers what skills they would need in six months, when participants were done. We then tailored our curriculum and training to meet those specific needs.
Participants in the program earn a living wage while taking multidisciplinary courses in clean energy, technical skills and interpersonal skills, followed by job readiness and on-the-job training. The program seeks candidates from underserved communities with no experience in clean energy but with intangible skills such as desire, passion, commitment and a strong work ethic.
When we recruited our first group of participants, we realized that the wages being offered during training were not competitive, so we increased the pay rate received by the participants based on competitive market factors. This significantly increased our candidate pool and retention.
Make a Commitment
Addressing long-standing equity issues requires a deep public/private commitment. From the beginning of the program, we committed to giving candidates every chance to succeed. All they needed to bring was a desire to learn, passion, and a willingness to work hard. That includes an appreciation for the evolving industry and the skills that are in demand.
PSE&G and our partners understood from the beginning that we did not have all the answers. But we were all committed to working together to find them.
While our journey is not complete, the Clean Energy Jobs Program has been a win for New Jersey and the economy, providing jobs, reducing customer energy bills and helping to protect the environment.
To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.