Preparing Our Future Talent Pipeline
At AEP, our talent strategy includes preparing our workforce for the future by providing opportunities to learn new talents and engaging higher education institutions to better prepare the next generation with the skills that we will need. We are also building a pipeline of future talent by investing in our Credits CountSM STEM education program. We are investing in our talent recruiting efforts to become more effective at connecting our new, cutting-edge work roles with today’s top candidates.
Our alliances with community colleges, universities and vocational and technical schools across our 11-state service territory supports the development of our talent pipeline. We work with these institutions to develop academic programs that will prepare employees for upward mobility opportunities and to attract external job seekers interested in careers in our industry. Our education partners include The Ohio State University, Columbus State Community College, Mid-East Career & Technical Centers, Texas State Technical College, Prairie View A&M University, Morgan State University, Tennessee State University, Bridge Valley Community & Technical College and Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology, among many others.
In 2019, AEP joined several other regional businesses in launching the Office of Talent Strategy (OTS) at Columbus State Community College. OTS will focus on the development of a talent strategy to fill in-demand workforce needs now and in the future. OTS is securing staff, has honed a mission with the business partners and is taking initiatives and partnerships built under Credit Counts, along with other program incubation efforts, and leveraging those into the next phase of talent pipeline development efforts.
In October 2020, Columbus State Community College was awarded the experimental grant we jointly proposed to the Department of Education. We are working with Columbus State to prepare to hire current federal work-study-eligible IT students, specifically for cyber security, for the 2021-2022 academic year. The students hired will have completed at least two semesters of IT coursework and have received “Career READY” status (approved resume, mock interview and elevator pitch) from the college. Our participation in the Department of Education’s federal work study experimental site program will provide us with access to a larger IT talent pipeline when these students finish school.
In Oklahoma, PSO actively participated in the Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium (OEWC) Oklahoma Careers in Energy Week, promoting careers in energy. The OEWC cites the impending workforce shortage as a major driver for its mission. Most schools have or are implementing STEM programs and curricula to meet the workforce demands.
We also have robust co-op and internship programs across a variety of business units. In spite of the pandemic, we were able to provide development opportunities for more than 50 college co-op students, interns and high school interns in 2020. One example of how we were able to do this is through the adaptation of our College Co-OP model. In lieu of suspending the program, we converted the program to a virtual format that allowed students to engage with AEP teams and work on projects in a virtual setting. In addition, we developed a new standardized outreach, onboarding and recruiting process that can be applied company-wide for all internship and co-op programs.
- Supporting Our Veterans
We actively support, recruit and hire military veterans. We educate, train and prepare them to successfully transition into rewarding energy industry jobs. Our talent acquisition team builds direct relationships with military facilities across the country to provide veterans with a pipeline to careers at AEP. We invest in attracting veterans because they have the technical training, experience and personal characteristics that make them a great fit for careers in the energy industry. They also bring a mindset of safety, which is a core value of our business, making them attractive recruits for our company.
We encourage veterans to actively seek and apply for jobs at AEP that match their training and skills and we partner with external initiatives designed to provide veterans with mentoring services, career development opportunities or skills matching services, such as U.S. Army Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS). In early 2020, AEP signed an agreement with the Department of Defense to become part of the Skillbridge program. In addition to outreach at local military facilities, we have a dedicated careers webpage at www.aep.com/careers.
In 2020, the U.S. government awarded AEP the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans (HIRE Vets) Gold Medallion. This prestigious award recognizes American employers that are most committed to recruiting, hiring and retaining military veterans.
- Workforce Investment
We provide development opportunities for employees at every level, whether through informal professional development or formal development programs. Several of our Employee Resource Groups and utility professional groups, such as Women’s International Network of Utility Professionals (WiNUP), sponsor programs and events that focus on employee education, career advancement and personal and professional development.
Transmission & Distribution University (TDU) is one way we are building a guided learning path to support career advancement for our employees. TDU enhances learning, performance and retention; implements processes and systems to provide flexible learning options and increased access to resources; equips trainers with tools and resources needed to optimize learning; ensures all employees are trained, qualified and competent for work; and gives employees more control of their learning path and development. In 2020, TDU pivoted to virtual learning to ensure a continuation of employee development in a safe and healthy manner. Members of the TDU Team are trained and certified through The Ohio State University’s Developing a Curriculum (DACUM) and Systematic Curriculum & Instructional Design (SCID) processes. These processes are the foundation for the TDU Learning Paths and Curriculum.
We also provide a broad range of training and assistance that supports lifelong learning and transition development. This includes performance coaching; operational skills training; resources to support our commitment to environment, safety and health; job progression training; tuition assistance; and other forms of training that help employees improve their skills and become better leaders. In 2020, our employees completed more than 775,000 hours of training in programs for which we track participation. In addition, we invested more than $2 million in employee education, supporting more than 1,000 employees through our tuition reimbursement program.