Skip to main content

Sustainable Energy Talent Pipelines

With an aspiration to be a force for good in the communities they serve, DTE Energy is working to address the skills gap, increase the quality of candidates for in-demand jobs, and build a sustainable pipeline of skilled talent through career path development and skilled trade training programs.

Investing in Talent for Tomorrow

See more Investing in Talent for Tomorrow stories

DTE Energy is working with community colleges and career and technical schools to provide the skills necessary for, and create awareness of, the pathways to good careers. The work doesn’t stop here, DTE is using Talent Pipeline Management™ to align education, industry, and government to continue to fill the pipeline now and in the future.


of energy workers are soon eligible to retire

The Challenge

As of a 2011 survey, the average age of the workforce in the energy sector was 46.1 years and the number of employees age 53 and above had increased by 5% in just five years. It is safe to say that in the next five years over 50% of energy workers will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years.

At the same time, 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. DTE Energy knows that they are competing for the same talent in the same region as many other industries. The traditional rate of skilled trade apprentice hires will not keep pace with expected demand.

The Solution

DTE is leading a statewide vision to address the skills gap and increase the quality of candidates for in-demand jobs by building a sustainable talent pipeline. With DTE as a driver, the Michigan Energy Workforce Development Consortium (MEWDC) laid the foundation by successfully implementing a 17th Career Cluster. “Energy” is now a certified, approved career path program at high school Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers across the state.

DTE, with an aspiration to be a force for good in the communities they serve, joined a significant effort in the City of Detroit and surrounding neighborhoods where the need for education and the opportunity to fill open positions collide. DTE launched several programs from high school internships to a skilled trades training program in collaboration with Henry Ford College called “Power and Trades Pathway.”

The Need for Energy Workers

Energy transmission and distribution are essential to our way of life – from the generation of electricity or gas products to the maintenance of power lines or gas lines near our homes and businesses. Every point along this path requires someone to construct or maintain it – this means jobs now AND in the future.

There is an increasing need to fill these positions as large numbers of “baby-boomers” continue to retire and, since almost every community in the United States has a similar infrastructure, the need is evident in most parts of the country. Meeting this need requires partnership and employer-led action.

Laying the Groundwork

DTE Energy knew that developing a career pathway program without the partnership of statewide education institutions wouldn’t achieve the results they needed to see. They needed to think bigger. So instead, they started by establishing a strong network within the community that had a common goal — strong career pathways in the energy industry, and people in jobs.

The Talent Pipeline Management™ (TPM) framework got all stakeholders to the table from industry, government, and education with clearly defined actions that allowed the MEWDC to execute quickly and efficiently. The results were exactly what the energy sector needed to see. In seven months they identified qualification similarities, developed standard educational programs, and were successful in implementing the 17th career cluster in Energy with the approval of the Michigan Department of Education.

This provided the education system the opportunity to provide programs with a consistent curriculum recognized by energy employers. For the educators, the demand data provided by industry employers gave them comfort that the individuals in these programs would gain employment.

Classroom to Career in One Year

With the Energy Career Cluster established, Henry Ford College and DTE Energy have been working with selected students through the Power and Trades Pathways program. The program is now available to any interested high school graduate who is 17 years old or older. There is no upper age limit.

The program trains graduates for high-demand job roles within the energy sector and skilled trades such as electric operations, gas operations, construction, and engineer technicians. Six major career pathways are available through the program. Most can be completed in just one year, preparing you to enter directly into a paid apprentice program in the field.

This stackable credential training approach is focused on teaching the core skills for skilled trades so students can obtain single or multiple certifications or degrees, thus “stacking” their credentials if they choose.

5 Community Colleges

and 7 high schools offer Energy Industry Fundamentals, an employer recognized credential pathway

6 career pathways

supported by the Power and Trades Pathway Program, plus an associate degree option

100,000 energy jobs

call Michigan home, a number expected to grow by 9% in the next 6 years

Partnerships Make the Difference

  • Randolph Career Technical Education School: A Construction Trades Career and Technical Education (CTE) school for students interested in a career in construction and building trades. DTE led the effort to raise more than $10 million to revitalize Randolph Career Technical Education, including a major facelift improving 13 classrooms and common areas and installing new equipment to make the school more vibrant and provide a modern technical education to Detroit youth.
  • Henry Ford College: The home of the Power and Trades Pathways program, this community college recruits talent from public high schools in Detroit. Most of them entered the program after working at DTE for the summer in the company’s Summer Youth Program, which provides skilled trades experiences for the students.
  • Detroit Public Schools Community District: DTE enters elementary, middle, and high schools to educate students and their families on the career opportunities available to them in their community. The hope is that teaching career exploration at an early age will ultimately help eliminate the gaps of open positions and not enough qualified talent to fill them and remove potential barriers earlier in life.
  • Future Partnerships: Plans are underway to extend career opportunities in energy by coordinating directly with Veterans, Returning Citizens Re-entry Programs, and Michigan Works.

How can other businesses do the same?

DTE employees “hit the pavement” every week to inform and engage high school students, nonprofits, churches, community groups and more on the opportunities to have a career in the energy skilled trades. First, get organized, using a strategy such as TPM. Second, lead the way knowing that change is possible.

Here’s how it’s paying off:

  • The Randolph Career and Technical Education Center has a capacity of 700 students, but for years could only enroll around 150. Randolph now has 300 students, and with added adult job training programs, aims to have 300 high school students during the day and 300 adults at night getting trained for in-demand jobs.
  • DTE’s Summer Youth Program is leading to direct hires as well as a pipeline of candidates for community college coursework. 80 summer interns have been hired by DTE into both skilled trades and professional positions to date. 13 students from previous internships went on to complete the Power and Trades Pathways program with 20 new students already enrolled for next season.

Share this Story