AMARILLO, TX (PRESS RELEASE) - The following is a statement from Xcel Energy:
Mark Palacio is one of about 1,700 Xcel Energy employees working in Texas and New Mexico, and like so many of his fellow workers, he has a unique story as to what led him to a career in energy.
As the company marks national Careers in Energy Week this week, it hopes Palacio’s story will inspire a new generation of workers that will be needed as older workers move in greater numbers toward retirement. The Center for Energy Workforce Development, based in the nation’s capital, has set aside this week to tell the stories of Palacio and thousands of U.S. energy workers who have chosen a career field that serves the greater good and provides countless opportunities for personal growth and career advancement.
Palacio started his career with Xcel Energy as an apprentice lineman on a transmission line construction crew in 1993. He spent the next six years on the road, earning his journeyman status along the way. Seeking to settle down, he took a job as a distribution lineman in Amarillo in 1999, which provided him more time with his family and also a chance to pursue a college degree. Through Xcel Energy’s tuition reimbursement program, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree by taking night classes at Wayland Baptist University in Amarillo, and later earned a Master of Arts degree in management.
Now Palacio supervises Xcel Energy’s Electric Field Training group, overseeing a respected training program that trains linemen in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. His rise through the ranks, from lineman to training supervisor for three states, is a story of hard work and commitment, like so many other employee success stories that have played out in all the towns and cities Xcel Energy serves.
“Xcel Energy’s commitment to me as an employee has made me very proud to work here,” Palacio said. “I hope to continue enhancing my skills and knowledge with this company as we train the workforce that is so vital to our energy future in this region.”
Xcel Energy has remained an employer of choice across the area for many years because of the wide variety of skills it requires to keep the power flowing to 100 communities in a 52,000 square-mile service area, as well as the company’s commitment to providing opportunities for advancement.
“We have many people who started working for the company at young ages in entry level positions who have continued their education and advanced through the ranks to top positions,” said Myrna Flores, the company’s Amarillo-based recruiter. “And because of the importance of the work we do, we are committed to hiring top talent and incentivizing long-term employment through competitive pay and benefits.”
Flores said developing the future workforce is a top priority for the company as more and more baby boomers reach retirement age. Fully half of the regional workforce will be eligible to retire within 10 years, opening up opportunities for younger employees from the smallest towns in the region to the largest.
While many jobs at the company require college degrees, jobs for tradesmen and skilled workers such as linemen, substation workers and electricians do not. And these craft positions can be found in almost every town where Xcel Energy has a service center. Workers just out of high school are eligible for these positions upon passing a handful of required tests, and can make $50,000 or more as first-year apprentices.
“Our training program is recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor, and workers who attain the journeyman level after completing a four-year training program can use this certification anywhere in the country, although it is our goal to keep them employed with us,” Flores said.
Xcel Energy also has stepped up efforts to bring on new engineers, a group of employees that are playing a key role in the historic expansion and modernization of Xcel Energy’s power grid. Through partnerships at area universities, the company has promoted a focus on power engineering in an effort to retain the top students in this region. Additionally, the company has set a goal – and exceeded it – of boosting veteran hiring by ensuring that 10 percent of all new hires in any field have a military background.
More information about careers at Xcel Energy can be found at www.xcelenergy.com/careers.
(Press release from Xcel Energy)
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