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BACK TO BOOT CAMP: Consumers Energy Eyes Vets to Fill Jobs

May 18, 2016       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Gas boot camp graduates and veterans Corey Douglas, left (Marines), and Michael Gibbs (Navy) are working on gas main installation projects.

Military veterans are the future, according to Consumers Energy.

With nearly half the energy workforce approaching retirement, Michigan's largest utility is planning ahead -- and veterans are an important resource in those plans.

But just like new recruits, first on the schedule is boot camp. The next step is a 90-day internship.

Consumers is working with Power for America and the Michigan National Guard to launch the Michigan Gas Boot Camp program.

"Consumers Energy is very proud to partner with our union, the Utility Workers Union of America as well as the Michigan National Guard to provide a quality workforce, now and in the future. Veterans bring discipline and skills that are valuable to our customers and company," said Dan Malone, Consumers Energy's senior vice president of energy resources. "This partnership is enhancing our workforce and will allow us to successfully cross the finish line together with those who served."

Consumers also agreed to increase its skilled workforce by selecting one internal candidate to receive the same training for every veteran that attends the boot camp.

Nearly half of the energy workforce in the U.S. is or will become eligible for retirement in the next few years, according to the Center for Energy Workforce Development. This provides opportunities for new employees -- in this case Michigan National Guard members and honorably discharged military veterans.

"The leadership abilities, team orientation and commitment to safety learned from their service mirror the skills needed in the energy industry while providing a path for honored veterans to transition into good-paying, family-sustaining jobs. This is a true win-win for the energy industry, Michigan families and the energy future of the state," said D. Michael Langford, national president, Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO. The Power for America Trust provides skilled training by and for current and prospective union employees at Consumers Energy and other partner utilities.

The four-week boot camp includes hands-on and instructional training. Successful applicants will acquire the skills and knowledge needed to be placed in entry-level natural gas jobs including gas lines construction laborer, gas lines construction fuser and meter reading positions. After a positive 90-day internship, full-time employment is offered with Consumers Energy.

Gas boot camp graduates join an Enhanced Infrastructure Replacement Program staff of nearly 500 permanent yet seasonal workforce employees dedicated to replacing and installing new gas pipelines, mains, and services. They work across Consumers Energy's natural gas service territory, which includes 1.7 million homes and businesses.

Each boot camp training session took place at Power for America's Potterville training facility. Over 200 applicants from across the state were interviewed and 40 veterans were selected to attend the initial camp. Thanks to the partnership with the Michigan National Guard, boot camp participants too far from home to make the daily trip to Potterville were offered housing and meal accommodations at the Guard's Battle Creek facility.

"The Michigan National Guard is proud to support this program and looks forward to supporting future classes. This program highlights the power of partnerships. Everyone wins: veterans, families, Consumers Energy, the Michigan National Guard, Power for America and the State of Michigan," said Michigan National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael A. Stone.

Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.


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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

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