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By Jon Hurdle
Faced with a need to fill more than 100,000 skilled jobs over the next eight years, U.S.
energy companies are working to attract veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with the experience needed in an industry that needs a large-scale upgrade in its infrastructure.
The Troops to Energy Jobs initiative, launched in 2011, is part of a drive to attract thousands of veterans with the skills that can be applied to the energy industry's pressing needs.
Utilities will need to replace an estimated 109,000 engineers, linemen, pipe-fitters and other skilled tradespeople between 2010 and 2020 because of retirement and attrition, according to the Edison Electric Institute.
With a need to maintain and enhance electric infrastructure across the country, those vacancies are going to create opportunities for ex-soldiers who can bring the technical skills and a professional approach to their new civilian lives.
"We think that veterans have many of the skills that our industry looks for," said Mary Miller, chief administrative officer at the Institute.
Five energy companies are participating in a pilot program to facilitate the transition from military to civilian life for the returning veterans. That assistance may take the form of identifying the skills needed for an individual to become a utility worker, and then putting him or her on a fast-track to learning them, or working with local educational institutions to help vets get credit for their prior experience.
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"If a veteran comes out of the service with certain credentials, we help that translate into our requirements," Miller said.
In addition having specific skills, veterans are valuable for the energy industry because they are reliable and place a high priority on safety, she said. Read more about how the military is involved in cutting edge energy research and technology deployment on AOL Energy here.