A natural gas boot camp program between Consumers Energy and Oakland Schools is helping the energy company meet a critical employment need while providing marketable skills and permanent jobs to interested high school graduates.
"This partnership with Oakland Schools is a win-win for all. Part of our promise to Michigan is to help create good-paying technical jobs like the ones offered through successful graduation from this natural gas boot camp," said Daniel Malone, senior vice president of distribution operations, engineering and transmission for Consumers Energy.
Consumers Energy is anticipating many long time employees to retire over the next few years. Replacing the highly-skilled employees is critical to the energy company, especially as it continues to enhance and expand its natural gas system. The company has about 15,000 employees and contractors.
The first natural gas boot camp graduates are scheduled to be recognized at a commencement ceremony, Aug. 18, at 5:30 p.m. at the Oakland Schools headquarters, 2111 Pontiac Lake Road, Pontiac. Featured speakers will include Malone, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland Schools Superintendent Vickie L. Markavitch and Midwest Energy President Patrick Van Beek.
"At Oakland Schools we believe in 'Learning today. Transforming tomorrow.' We were pleased to help develop this apprentice program because it mirrors our mission, and offers students an excellent vocational career option designed to provide marketable skills and knowledge. We continue to look for innovative ways to provide educational opportunities to our students," said Markavitch.
Fourteen students successfully completed the six-week course designed in partnership with Oakland Schools and modeled after the Midwest Energy Association courses.
The boot camp was taught by an Oakland Schools Technical Campus instructor, and the 102-module course curriculum included safety education, understanding natural gas properties, utility construction as well as learning specific tasks performed by gas service technicians. Daily physical conditioning was part of the program to help prepare students for the physical aspect of these positions.
Consumers Energy provided subject matter experts throughout the boot camp and participated in mock job interviews with students.
Natural gas boot camp graduates who pass all pre-employment testing will be offered related positions with Consumers Energy. The next natural gas boot camp will begin this fall.
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.5 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
Oakland Schools, one of 56 intermediate school districts (ISDs) in Michigan, was established in 1962. ISDs are regional service agencies that offer support services to school personnel that are best delivered regionally, as measured by cost, size and quality advantages. Oakland Schools is an autonomous, tax-supported public school district governed by Michigan General School Laws.