Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation, is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, PG&E has approximately 21,000 employees who carry out the utility’s primary business — the transmission and delivery of energy. The company provides natural gas and electric service to 16 million people throughout a 70,000-square-mile service area in northern and central California.
PG&E’s former lineworker apprentice program was designed to provide more on-the-job training and less traditional classroom instruction to cut training costs, with the expectation that experienced lineworkers in the eld would complete the apprentices’ training on-the-job. Although the intent was good, field supervisors were unprepared for the task of training new hires from the ground up, and productivity was impacted by qualified field workers being pulled away from their jobs to train new employees. Additional problems encountered included an inefficient HR screening process for lineworker apprentice candidates, a disconnect between required performance and the metrics in place, and a lack of buy-in for the training model by employees in the eld. As a result, new lineworkers were being insufficiently trained, did not feel supported and were more prone to incidents.
PG&E needed a lineworker apprentice program that provided lineworkers with the knowledge, skills and confidence necessary to be successful and prepared for a complex and hazardous job in a highly regulated environment with significant public scrutiny. Of equal importance, given the collaborative nature of the work, the crew — from lineworkers to supervisors — needed to be thoroughly trained in all processes and procedures to ensure their safety and the safety of others.
PG&E set a goal to develop a comprehensive, end-to-end five-year lineworker apprentice training program that would become a model for the utility industry. The revised program needed to include a more rigorous hiring process, a ‘pre-apprentice’ program to filter out candidates that did not meet the requirements as de ned by the program, and increased defensibility and rigor.
PG&E partnered with Mosaic to develop a customized, formal lineworker apprentice training program, and to create materials that aligned with the union and management-approved core competencies. The new program included a key component — a 1-year, pre-apprentice probationary period that involves a tightly aligned combination of instructor-led, web-based and eld training.
Mosaic developed formal on-the-job training programs to provide supervisors with apprentice assessment tools to document the their responsibility for ensuring the apprentices’ success. Mosaic’s consultants closely collaborated with PG&E Academy teams in operations and delivery, and with lines of business, management, recruiting and the union, to ensure that all groups supported the goals of the new lineworker apprentice program and assumed responsibility for its successful deployment.
With a more stringent screening and hiring process in place, and carefully designed and comprehensive training, PG&E has validated that the lineworker apprentice program is bringing immediate value to the eld. Apprentices now bring a thorough understanding of the requirements of the job, the needs of customers and the necessity of safety, and the ability to do the work correctly and efficiently for every aspect of their jobs. Because of the new program, PG&E has also improved safety metrics and customer service.