Written by Raquel Velez DeGroot, Project Director, EPCE
One of CAEL's signature initiatives, the Energy Providers Coalition for Education (EPCE), makes it possible for employees in the energy industry to acquire the credentials they need to secure jobs in an industry that is undergoing both a demographic and technology transformation. In a proactive response, EPCE was formed when CAEL brought together representatives from across the energy industry to focus on the specific education and training needs of this critical workforce. With looming retirements and new technology implementation, the energy industry knew it needed to provide a way to build a skilled and nimble workforce to tackle a shifting landscape.
EPCE knows that typical working adults simply cannot make time in their busy lives to commute to a traditional classroom. By offering certificates and degrees fully online, EPCE students have the flexibility of pursuing education anytime, anywhere. For many, online learning is the only way they can earn their credentials.
A recent graduate from EPCE's Nuclear Power Technology program at Bismarck State College, an EPCE education partner, was able to achieve a 10-year-long goal of becoming a Radiation Protection Technician because of the online option. Gary Smith, an Exelon employee, had been unsuccessful in applying for the position before because he lacked the credentials. But doors opened when he finally earned his degree through the online program.
"I didn't have a college degree," Gary says, "so once I got into the security department (at Exelon), I was able to take advantage of their educational tuition program and attend Bismarck to get my degree online, and that's what facilitated me getting the Radiation Protection position... without this degree I would not have qualified for the job."
Another key to Gary's degree completion was the tuition reimbursement program that his employer offered. CAEL's research confirms that employees with access to prepaid tuition benefits are more likely to complete an education program. "Had I not had the tuition reimbursement," Gary says, "it would have been difficult going back to school. It's a good investment for the company too -- investing in a better employee, and ensuring that you stay with them."
We couldn't have said it better, Gary! Employers like EPCE member companies who invest in their workforce reap significant benefits -- higher skilled employees who are committed to their jobs and to their employers.