We had a shortage of talent, which not only affected our company, but it affected our customers and the communities we serve. We wanted to do everything we could to ensure a bright future for our home state.
50 were qualified candidates
In a 2015 search to hire 100 skilled trade workers – specifically in-demand electric line workers and gas line workers – Consumers Energy received 4,000 applications. After a screening process, 50 applicants, just 1% of the applications received, were deemed “qualified” for these available jobs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2026, out of the top 20 fastest growing occupations, the top two spots belong to the energy sector. With almost 50% of the Consumers Energy skilled trade workforce eligible for retirement in the next three years, they needed an aggressive talent development strategy.
Consumers Energy, working with the Michigan Energy Workforce Development Consortium (MEWDC), used the TPM approach to implement a new workforce strategy for their electric line and gas line workers. Using this data-driven approach they are able to successfully project demand, identify in-demand competencies, and map trusted sources of talent for these jobs. Much of that success is due to expanded and improved partnerships with training partners who were willing to adapt and receive constructive input from employers.
Better armed with their own data on critical jobs, Consumers Energy has been able to provide more relevant training facilities, increase face time with students, and provide in-depth input on course curricula for those career paths—including identifying and eliminating outdated training practices.
What is Talent Pipeline Management (TPM)?
The U.S. Chamber Foundation’s TPM initiative is a demand-driven, employer-led approach to close the skills gap that builds pipelines of talent aligned to dynamic business needs. This strategy is putting the business community in the driver’s seat as the end-customer of the education system.
TPM is a strategy developed to proactively meet the needs of today’s changing business environment. The in-person TPM Academy is a training to help workforce development leaders from across the country learn the TPM approach, how to harness their data to define their talent demands, and drive partnerships with education and training providers based on that need.
of school to work hires through a four-year apprenticeship
$30,000 in savings
per hire in onboarding remediation costs
in funding specifically for TPM and other industry-led collaborative workforce approaches
A Key Partnership
Consumers Energy heavily relied upon their partnership with the Michigan Energy Workforce Development Consortium (MEWDC). Since 2008, DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, utility municipalities and co-ops, and other relevant partners have worked together to create the MEWDC with an aim to develop solutions to looming skilled worker shortages in Michigan’s energy utility industry. Their goal is to identify and act on current and future workforce issues that are crucial to building and sustaining Michigan’s energy industry.
Areas of Impact
Workforce development is never over. TPM is an end-to-end approach that often reveals untapped opportunity. Here are two that Consumers Energy capitalized on.
Through the TPM process, Consumers identified opportunities for improvements to their existing registered apprenticeship program for electric line workers. This six-month program at local community colleges is followed by a 10-week program onsite at Consumers Energy prior to onboarding.
Armed with their data and new, improved relationships with their training provider partners, these training programs are now the sole source of entry-level electric line workers for the Consumers Energy workforce.
For gas line workers, the TPM process revealed that 45 percent of the skills new hires needed were in direct alignment with military roles, and that nearly 30 percent of the current gas line workforce was veterans. As a result, Consumers Energy partnered with Power for America to develop a veteran-specific training program.
Now, the skills most prioritized by Consumers Energy better align with what is taught in the pre-employment programming. Consumers has hired more than 100 people from each of these refreshed programs in the last three years, providing a direct pipeline of appropriately skilled talent for critical jobs.