Bridging the gap


By Debbie Gregory.

Another company is bridging the gap between military and civilian job descriptions to boost veteran jobs.

Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy, outlined ways the utility plans to bolster its military hiring practices to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.

“I’m pleased to be able to speak to the committee about our long standing commitment to veterans, and our plans to increase those efforts,” Fowke said. “We value the skills, commitment and diversity that veterans bring to the workplace.”

Fowke told the committee that the energy industry faces a significant need for new, qualified employees, as over half of their workforce is eligible to retire over the next 10 years.  It only makes sense for them to identify, attract and hire from the pool of qualified, skilled military and veteran candidates.

Fowke appreciates the qualities exhibited by military-experienced employees, including the ability to learn quickly, support a team environment, respect procedures, prioritize safety, multi-task and provide leadership to those around them.

Currently, about 12 percent of Xcel Energy’s 11,000 employees are veterans, with many represented in management. The company forecasts a need for linemen, engineers, operations and maintenance personnel.

Within the utility industry, Xcel Energy has worked to open channels to identify and recruit qualified veterans, and plans to expand those efforts. Xcel Energy also offers orientation, training and leadership development programs to transition veterans into the workforce and retain them.

Fowke outlined several things that can be done to help veteran job seekers transition into private sector jobs, including translating military skills into job requirements, strengthening résumés, and improving interviewing skills. Fowke said helping veterans achieve certifications and credentials relevant to the industry would also improve their chances of obtaining private sector jobs.

Some veteran jobs require civilian certifications and/or licenses related to their military occupational specialties. Certification plays a key role in obtaining veteran job transition such as mechanics, installers to medical technicians to therapists to computer network engineers, Web site developers, and many, many others.

Xcel Energy complies with all requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, as well as all state laws. In addition, the company supports its employees who are called to active duty with enhanced benefits.

Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company with regulated operations in eight Western and Midwestern states. Xcel Energy provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.4 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis.