Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy, outlined to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee ways the utility plans to bolster its military hiring practices.
“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.
“Our industry faces a significant need for new, qualified employees as over half of our workforce is eligible to retire over the next 10 years. It only makes sense for us to enhance our ability to identify, attract and hire from this pool of qualified, skilled candidates.”
Attractive qualities exhibited by military-experienced employees include 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, and operations and maintenance personnel.
In his comments, Fowke thanked U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, vice chair of the joint committee, for their work in helping former military transition into the workforce. Fowke complimented Klobuchar for introducing the Veterans to Paramedics Transition Act, which would provide private sector certification for military emergency medical services personnel. Fowke called the approach valuable, suggesting it could act as a model for other industries.
Fowke outlined several things that can be done to help veterans transition into the private sector, including translating military skills into job requirements, strengthening rÃ©sumÃ©s 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.
Xcel Energy has recently received recognition for its veteran hiring practices. Xcel Energy was named one of GI Jobs’ Top 100 Military Friendly Employers for the last five years and won the Most Valuable Employer for Military by CivilianJobs.com.
Within the utility industry, Xcel Energy has worked to open channels to identify and recruit qualified veterans and plans to expand those efforts. The company partners with Troops to Energy Jobs, Military.com, Corporate Gray and Hire Veteran to reach potential candidates. Xcel Energy also offers orientation, training and leadership development programs to transition veterans into the workforce and retain them.
“We would welcome the opportunity to work with members of the Joint Economic Committee to develop other tools that would enhance our ability to hire and train veterans,” said Fowke. “It’s good for us, good for them, and good for our communities.”
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