Co-op CEO: the industry needs veterans
Excerpts and photo reprinted with permission from: Energy Consumers of the Carolinas energy blog post, These Veterans Give Us Energy - An Introduction, (Nov.7, 2018) by Executive Director, Carl Sandberg; and NRECA article, Co-ops Must Get on Veterans’ Radar to Compete for a Highly Skilled Workforce (Nov. 9, 2018) by Senior Writer-Editor, Cathy Cash. Photo by Alexis Matsui/NRECA.
These veterans give us energy
Veterans and electric utilities have long partnership. Each workplace – energy and military – share traits required for success. They are a good match. Energy Consumers of the Carolinas salutes the veterans who work in the energy industry in the Carolinas.
Our nation has more than 18 million veterans now, with Gulf War vets surpassing Vietnam Era vets in 2016. (source)
“America’s electric cooperatives need to hire veterans because of their very diverse skill set,” said Curtis Wynn, president and CEO of Roanoke Electric Co-op. "Veterans are particularly needed now throughout the electric cooperative network, as the energy sector is in a major transformation."
Veterans’ traits fit well with the changing energy industry: A bias for action, flexibility, work ethic, teamwork, and a belief that that learning is life-long. They also inherently understand the importance of putting safety first when working in fast-moving and pressing conditions.
Electric co-ops across the Carolinas are committed to hiring veterans and undertaking special efforts to attract them. Boots to Buckets is a veteran program of one of Roanoke Electric's sister co-op, South River Electric Membership Corporation, based in Dunn, North Carolina. The program supports an annual scholarship a military veteran to attend the Electric Lineman’s Academy at Nash Community College. The first recipient was named in January 2018.
The co-op's CEO, Chris Spears, said that electric co-ops facing a shortage of linemen as baby boomers continue to retire from the workforce leads to another good reason for engaging veterans -- shared values. "The values of cooperatives align closely with those who serve in the military,” said Spears.
Co-ops Must Get on Veterans’ Radar to Compete for a Highly Skilled Workforce
Wynn, who also serves a vice president to the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association board of directors, encourages electric cooperatives to boost their efforts to bring today’s highly skilled veterans home to challenging co-op careers rooted in service.
“We’ve done a good job of recognizing highly trained vets in the workforce,” said Wynn, "however in those instances of recruiting and hiring vets to work at cooperatives, we need to become more aggressive. We have to step that up a little bit to make sure we get our share of the talented people coming out of the military.”
Wynn himself served seven years in the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. His father was a veteran of World War II, two of his brothers joined the Army and another, the Air Force. His wife served in the Army in Germany and the U.K. His son, a recent University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill graduate, has enlisted in the Air Force with the goal of becoming a commissioned officer.
Speaking at the 2018 Veterans in Energy Forum held at NRECA’s Arlington, Virginia, headquarters earlier this fall, Wynn said co-ops must build strategies, coordinate efforts and dedicate resources to recruit the best and brightest workforce to meet the new demands of a changing industry.
Wynn said the skills many soldiers are learning today are particularly relevant to electric co-ops, such as cybersecurity expertise.
Co-ops also need “technically skilled people who can adapt to the type of work we hire them to do. Now, with smart meters, communications, automation of our systems, all those skill sets would be helpful.”
He added that the leadership qualities of veterans would be a strong fit for cooperative management and senior level executive positions.
Wynn’s ultimate message to veterans is simple: “The industry needs you.”
Are you or someone you know a veteran interested in working at Roanoke Electric Co-op? We need YOU! Check out the two opportunities currently open and apply today.