Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Industry Spotlight: Wind Energy

Harnessing power from energy produced by wind is a developing industry, and many players in this industry have found valuable employees in veterans. According to the American Wind Energy Association Annual Wind Industry Report, new wind installations in the US place us on track to generate 20% of the nation’s electricity from wind energy by 2030, and veterans are filling the new demand for qualified employees in positions ranging from research and development, to plant operations, to environmental ecology, and even corporate support functions.

Former Military are uniquely suited for the following roles in Wind Energy:

· Field Service Engineers
· Maintenance Technicians
· Equipment Mechanics
· Water Quality Analysts
· Electricians
· Sr. Engineers
· Computer Science
· Research & Development
· Project Managers, Operations
· Research Scientist

A recent Military Times Edge article by Amanda Miller spotlighted Matt Wheeler, a First Lieutenant in the Illinois Army National Guard, who decided to make a career change using Orion following a deployment to Iraq in 2007-2008. According to the article, it was because of that decision that “Wheeler is now happily working as a site manager for Suzlon Wind Energy Corp., tending a wind farm of 78 turbines in Oklahoma.”

Wheeler began his career with Suzlon in 2008, and although he had no direct wind experience, Miller writes that it was “…his education — (he has an MBA) — and job experience, including his logistics work in Iraq, [that] helped prepare him for the job…” Wheeler told Orion, “This is exactly the position I have been hard wired for.”

As is the case with Wheeler, veterans have a leg up on the competition in the wind energy industry. According to a Suzlon spokesperson, Suzlon seeks to hire veterans because they have the electrical and mechanical skills necessary to do the job. In addition, they possess leadership skills, commitment, and integrity.

It is not uncommon for companies in the wind energy business to hire outside of their industry, as it is a relatively new industry. Miller quotes Wheeler as stating, “It’s only in the last three to four years that we’ve seen the skyrocketing growth [in the wind energy industry] in the U.S. that has resulted in a spike in demand for qualified people. There are not many people out there with direct wind education and/or experience.” Wheeler is right; veterans and employers alike are partnering to power this emerging industry.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How to Manage Different Generations

Managers are increasingly struggling with generational differences in their workforce. Problems arise from not only the different mindsets across generations, but also new technology and work patterns that are mixed in among those of different age groups.

Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are competitive and insist workers of all ages should pay their dues. Generation X-ers, born between 1965 and 1977, tend to be more skeptical and independent-minded. Gen Ys, or Millennials, born in 1978 or later crave teamwork, technology, and feedback.

The key to working with the different thinking and practices among the generations is to be able to address and use the differences to your advantage. Here are some strategies:
Rather than trying to change your staff, update managers. Have them participate in training or classes to recognize generational differences.

Establish mentoring practices between employees of different ages. Younger employees can learn from the experience and wisdom that older employees have gained. Older employees can learn to be open and gain fresh perspectives from younger employees.

Accommodate different learning styles. Baby Boomers may prefer more traditional and static training methods, while younger workers may favor more interactive, technology based forms of learning.

Create recognition programs. Even the simplest gesture, such as a positive email, can help boost Gen Xers’ productivity. Boomers tend to seek status, so may respond best to an office wide email applauding their accomplishments. Millennials seek validation, so they will appreciate increased responsibility and may also prefer frequent reviews of their work.

Don’t apply a blanket communication-method policy. Boomers may prefer communication by phone or in person, while Millennials are comfortable with being in constant communication such as emailing, texting, or instant messaging.

While creating a work atmosphere to accommodate the different attitudes across the generations, it’s also important not to confuse issues like immaturity and laziness with generational traits. Baby Boomers may see a 60-hour work week as the only route to success while many hard working Millennials may prefer a more balanced work life that includes reasonable working hours with occasional time off, but may be more than willing to make up time in a more unstructured setting, such as catching up at a Starbucks on the weekend.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Veterans Employment Initiative Reaches the Senate

The Veterans Retraining Act of 2009, Bill #H.R. 1168, passed in the House of Representatives and was received by the Senate and referred to the Committee on Veteran’s Affairs on November 2.

The Veterans Retraining Act of 2009, sponsored by Congressman John Boozman (R-AR), is a landmark act that would improve the employability of certain groups of veterans through job training.

The act also requires that each covered veteran would be paid an assistance allowance for each month they are enrolled in an employment and training program that teaches an in-demand skill, as determined by the Secretary of Labor. It additional provides financial assistance to help newly trained veterans relocate to a high demand job market.

Covered veterans include those that are unemployed for at least four consecutive months before applying for such assistance; are able to successfully complete the program; and are ineligible for other veterans' education or training assistance.

The Act, which was introduced on February 25, 2009, and passed the house on November 2, is currently awaiting a Senate vote. If passed, the Veterans Retraining Act of 2009 could serve as yet another vehicle for veterans to hone their skills in their chosen field, making them more valuable employees.

This legislation is an important veteran-related measure aimed at the successful transition and employment of servicemen and women.

For more information on how this could influence the hiring of veterans at your company, please visit one of the websites below: