Friday July 30, 2010 | Charlotte & Energy Jobs

July 28, 2010 at 10:42 am | Posted in Coming Up | 7 Comments

There’s an effort in Charlotte to expand the focus of being a banking city and diversifying the industries Charlotte is known for. One of the industries coming into the forefront is the Energy industry, which is undergoing some major growth these days. The industry is facing an upcoming shortage of qualified workers due to the expectation that a large percentage of the current workforce will soon retire. This means that Energy is becoming a more popular career track for young people and people ready for a career change. We’ll talk about some of the different facets of the Energy industry and about future growth projections for jobs in this industry here and around the country.
Guests
John Espey
– Chief Operations Officer, Intelagrid
Jeff Merrifield – Senior Vice President, Shaw Power Group
Jay Potter – Dean of the Harper Campus at Central Piedmont Community College

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*Photo Courtesy James Willamor

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  1. Regarding your discussion on energy and jobs open to engineers. My son graduated in December 2009 from Georgia Tech with a 3.5 GPA as a civil engineer but could not find a job either here in Charlotte or anywhere is the USA. He just left to get his Masters in Structural Engineering because that is what he was told to do by anyone in the business.

  2. Below is my email and my phone comment in regard to today’s Show – If I’d had more time, I would have mentioned that those supposed 3500 jobs for new nuclear will be mostly construction and Shaw employees, it doesn’t take many employees to run a nuclear plant however many years from now that it comes on line. Even if it doesn’t come on line, Shaw will make money (lots) and we (ratepayers and NC Taxpayers) will be forced to pay up front for construction loans and loan guarantees which Wall Street investors are too smart to touch. This is NOT democracy, it creates jobs only on the backs of citizens, not the corporations. The way to “democratize the grid” is to do what cloudy Germany, Gainesville FL and now Ontario (to name a few) are doing – let the power companies PAY their customers for new power generation on their existing rooftops (or new rooftops!), banks lend on guaranteed returns, etc. The JOBS created from construction workers to new industries, to weatherization, to general economic pickup, thrills the local Chambers of Commerce! BTW Smart Grid would incorporate all these rooftops into the overall and regulate the baseload according to need….on existing power lines! No need to build huge centralized plants with long expensive transmission lines. People could even RENT solar rooftop energy so almost everyone could participate and “share the wealth”. Arn’t these supposed to be PUBLIC Utilities anyway?

    check out the websites below my comments on today’s show for real information –

    And, don’t forget the TIME FRAME – Using the simple financing tool called Feed-In-Tariffs all this renewal and jobs were created in 8 short months versus the YEARS it will take (if the Nuclear Regulatory Agency approves these wasteful plants) to build old-style reactors with all their environmental costs to waste storage and water evaporation. BTW, if they never come on line, you and I pay for them anyway, the corporations like Shaw and Duke make every penny off of US. What corporation wouldnt love to have their customers pay up front for their potential failures?

    COMMENTS ON AIR:
    To the gentleman from Shaw who stands to make tons of money building nuclear plants (old style Westinghouse AP1000) – Yes, nuclear would be fine if it wasn’t for the 4 W’s –
    Waste, Water (evaporates millions of gallons of water per day per reactor, more in warm weather), Weapons, and Wall Street won’t touch it! That’s why we are being made to pay for nuclear reactors we don’t want….in advance.

    If we want to create JOBS quickly, look to Gainesville Fl, cloudy Germany and now Ontario with distributed rooftop solar that created more jobs than they can fill……in 8 months…..and greened up their economy, while eliminating the need for a new divisive coal plant (or nuclear plant).

    According to the Fed energy Regulatory Commission Chair, Jon Wellinghoff, we CAN do baseload with solar, wind, geothermal.

    Deb A, Wadesboro

    PS. Mr. Shaw guy-I probably met you at the Gaffney Hearings for Duke’s Lee Reactor where I spoke with many others AGAINST the proposed new reactors that would waste millions of gallons of water – just to make steam! And, have to be paid for by ratepayers and taxpayers in advance (Jeff Barryfield?)

    Deb, Wadesboro, NC

    -Member of Greenroots Community Group formed at Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant public meetings in November 2009, met with Charlotte Mayor Foxx in December, 2009. We traveled to Gainesville Florida Jan 29, 2010 to bring back information on their successful Rooftop Revolution model similar to Germany using Feed-In-Rates. http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2009/0903.blake.html

    Articles in the Gainesville Sun on the day of our visit:
    Vision of the Future – Innovative Gainesville Economic Development Plan Unveiled http://www.gainesville.com/article/20100129/ARTICLES/1291014
    Jobs Created in 2009 Highlighted at Chamber of Commerce Event http://www.gainesville.com/article/20100129/ARTICLES/1291012

    Also pertinent to Solutions:
    FIT Program Making Ontario Solar Energy’s Newest Hot Spot
    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/2010/05/fit-program-making-ontario-solar-energys-newest-hot-spot?cmpid=rss
    Energy Regulatory Chief Says New Coal, Nuclear Plants May Be Unnecessary
    http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/04/22/22greenwire-no-need-to-build-new-us-coal-or-nuclear-plants-10630.html?pagewanted=1

  3. I enjoyed program this morning as I was driving in late to work. I am semi retired from a company who has 50 employees in Statesville. Steam generation and power companies in general are a considerable portion of the foundation of our business. Thirty years ago we were primarily supplying temperature sensors to the fiber producers in the Carolinas, but that business is only 20% or so of what it used to be. Duke Power (Energy) has always been one of our best sources of business and has partnered with us to improve our business on many occasions. They actually sent a team of their managers here for a week to discover how small businesses operate and what differentiates them from larger corporate institutions. As Duke and Shaw and their like grow so our employees benefit.
    We looking forward to an even stronger relationship with these companies as they grow and increase their purchases from us and other companies located in NC.

  4. A few followup thoughts for my on-the-air comments. Thanks to Jay, John and Jeff for their insights, especially the invitation to Tuesday’s CPCC event. Coincidentally, as the show concluded, I found myself on Morris Field Drive, passing the Harris campus. I stopped in at the front desk, and with a call or two the receptionist was able to find someone familiar with the event and provide contact information for me. I’ll see you there.

    Much else aside, I’ll stand by my age comments for one reason: When I submit honest resumes that obviously disclose my age (school and detailed employment history dates) they disappear into the proverbial black hole. When I submit resumes designed to hide that information, and compress my early job history, I at least get replies, sometimes even a conversation. For both approaches, my resumes are peer reviewed and occasionally vetted by an HR professional or two who are personal friends.

    I appreciate Mr. Espey’s embrace of the seasoned engineer. Evidence suggests Intelagrid may in the minority on this issue (honorably so.) Makes one wonder – do automated resume processing systems provide filtering by dates? Do the hiring managers ever see us?

    Regardless, I’ll make my way.

    At 42, having successfully launched a 260 million dollar product line (principal engineering team member, north american subject matter expert, and turf battle looser for siting the second production plant) I opted for consulting with the strong support (ongoing business) of our team. I didn’t want to spend another seven years in a corporate position, only to find myself looking for work at age 49. The guys got me off the ground, even helped secure a new client or two. All that disappeared on 9/11. By 2005 I was making progress, only to have my clients lost to the 2008 crash (all startups, relying on market backed financing.) 2009 left me unable to capitalize even my internal development projects. I’m proud to report that as of March 2010 I’m still in the automotive industry – delivering car parts for a local GM dealership and dreaming of even a new grad’s salary in the wonderful world of electronics engineering here in these Unites States. Youngsters beware. Your turn is coming.

  5. A few followup thoughts for my on-the-air comments. Thanks to Jay, John and Jeff for their insights, especially the invitation to Tuesday’s CPCC event. Coincidentally, as the show concluded, I found myself on Morris Field Drive, passing the Harris campus. I stopped in at the front desk, and with a call or two the receptionist was able to find someone familiar with the event and provide contact information for me. I’ll see you there.

    Much else aside, I’ll stand by my age comments for one reason: When I submit honest resumes that obviously disclose my age (school and detailed employment history dates) they disappear into the proverbial black hole. When I submit resumes designed to hide that information, and compress my early job history, I at least get replies, sometimes even a conversation. For both approaches, my resumes are peer reviewed and occasionally vetted by an HR professional or two who are personal friends.

    I appreciate Mr. Espey’s embrace of the seasoned engineer. Evidence suggests Intelagrid may in the minority on this issue (honorably so.) Makes one wonder – do automated resume processing systems provide filtering by dates? Do the hiring managers ever see us?

    Regardless, I’ll make my way.

    At 42, having successfully launched (what would in 2007 become) a 260 million dollar product line (principal engineering team member, north american subject matter expert, and turf battle looser for siting the second production plant) I opted for consulting with the strong support (ongoing business) of our team. I didn’t want to spend another seven years in a corporate position, only to find myself looking for work at age 49. The guys got me off the ground, even helped secure a new client or two. All that disappeared on 9/11. By 2005 I was making progress, only to have my clients lost to the 2008 crash (all startups, relying on market backed financing.) 2009 left me unable to capitalize even my internal development projects. I’m proud to report that as of March 2010 I’m still in the automotive industry – delivering car parts for a local GM dealership and dreaming of even a new grad’s salary in the wonderful world of electronics engineering here in these Unites States. Youngsters beware. Your turn is coming.

  6. I would like to express my appreciation and provide some feedback for today’s CPCC Energy Careers Event. Perhaps Mike will invite his guests back for another show to discuss their take on the effort.

    The panelists provided specific detail on both the upcoming needs of the Charlotte area, as an energy hub, and their own organizations. Most cited replacement of aging baby boomers as a looming impediment to their businesses. Younger panelists cited concerns over the media perception of software engineering opportunities having fled the country (alternately viewed as past cost cutting trends [IT offshoring] coming home to roost.) Programmers – they need us now!

    Several took the time to explain the present makeup of their companies, earlier firms from which they originated, the focus and functions under the current corporate umbrella, etc. I appreciated this. Company web sites talk about who they are now, but often gloss over the progression of corporate pedigrees. Simply following the mergers & reorganizations to recognize a firm can be a daunting task for the job seeker. Some were also kind enough to suggest their preferred third party contract labor providers as an additional path of entry.

    A consistent theme expressed by the panelists was the breadth of ancillary positions to be filled. They need a full range of financial, administrative, and skilled trade personnel, that are not “energy” specific.

    Panelists agreed that many opportunities, while Charlotte hired & based, would be deployed elsewhere. Be that to worldwide nuclear construction sites or out west stringing lines to wind farms, applicant mobility is key to many positions.

    The organizers and panelists alike appeared somewhat surprised by the demographics of attendees. This was largely a middle aged group from a wide range of career levels. Much Q&A focused on career (skills) transition: “How do I make a lateral (or if need be, step down) entry in into your market?” “How can I avoid rejection as an overqualified applicant?”

    The executives and HR panelists offered encouraging prospects for those in transition. It was the reasoned appreciation of transferable skills, valuation of mature soft skills, and focus on attitude that the experienced job seeker would like to hear. I believe their openness was sincere. Yet there was a papalable disconnect between the executive line and the attendee’s perceived response in the marketplace. One lady put it quite succinctly by asking what filters stood between applicants and hiring managers.

    Panelists confirmed that the hiring process is one of placing job orders with third parties, with results largely dependent on the accuracy of the job description provided. Translation: Unless the job order specifically addresses transitional skills, senior level applicants, etc., we’ll never see those applicants. They’ll have to come find us at job fairs and other networking venues.

    Reflecting on my earlier on-air comments, I must surmise that age discrimination is inherent in the present system of on-line applications and third party recruiters. Perhaps Mr. Collins can tackle this perception on an upcoming edition of “Charlotte Talks.” How about it Mike?

    Our hosts admonished us to stay for the afternoon wrap up. No doubt there was more to learn. I must admit after a $25 ticket and a days lost wages, picking up my daughter after school trumped that session. (Second full day and we don’t have all the carpools in place.) I took a moment to introduce myself to Jay Potter as his on-air heckler and offered that I appreciated continuing education, but that I could never decide whether to avail myself as a student or instructor. I don’t think he appreciated it. (As it happens, a friend & colleague, technical chair at Fayetteville Community College had approached me for a teaching position last fall but was stymied by the requirement for a Masters, which I do not hold. As the panelists pointed out, we’re all Goldilocks, looking for the bowl thats just right.)

    Thanks again to all. I think many folks made good connections. And maybe, just maybe… I left feeling a little younger.
    Fred

  7. Charlotte will be an “energy nub” when Duke Power gets through.


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