VP Biden visits utility’s job training for US veterans in Oakland

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02:25 AM April 15th, 2015

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By: Jun Nucum, April 15th, 2015 02:25 AM
biden with (l-r) IBEW 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell,  Oakland Mayor Schaaf and Earley

Vice President Joe Biden (speaking) at veterans’ training site with IBEW Local 1245 leader Tom Dalzell, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and PG&E CEO Tony Earley. PHOTOS BY JUN NUCUM

OAKLAND, California — Vice-President Joe Biden told US veterans undergoing job training that American companies that left to seek better business conditions abroad, will come back to the country to make the United States the world leader once again in the 21st century. “It is never, never, ever been a good bet to bet against the American people,” he said.

Biden made the bold declaration during his visit to the PG&E Veteran Workforce Development Class held here recently. He bared a Boston study that this year, 54 percent of companies who have invested in China indicated that their plans are to come home.

“We’ve gone from crisis to recovery and America is now on the verge of genuine resurgence,” Biden declared. “The International Monetary Fund has just raised the projected growth of the United States to 3.6 percent in stark contrast to every other advanced economy in the world. We are no longer talking about outsourcing anymore but in-sourcing as opposed to what has happened for the past 25 years,” Biden explained.

Turning to the veterans who were going back to the workforce, Biden cited them as “the greatest domestic energy source we have.”

Veterans as resource

Around 2.8 million veterans that saw action in wars overseas have come home with a great deal to offer, he said. “What you are doing here at PG&E to train veterans for specific skills that the company needs are exactly what companies should be doing everywhere. This is the best trained most qualified warriors America has ever produced,” he added.

“If you can command a platoon in battle, you can manage a crew. If you can run a sophisticated weapons system worth tens of millions of dollars, you can program a computer. The challenges that we face are translated in the skills these women and men are bringing back from their experience as veterans from military to civilian purposes,” Biden explained.

One such veteran benefiting from the program is Omar Carvajal Adiong, who traces his roots to Tayug, Pangasinan and Dumaguete City.

Adiong is the lone Filipino American in the current batch of 15 trainees in the nine-week program sponsored by the federal government and being undertaken by PG&E, which started January 23 and will last until May 2.

Fil-Am Marine

“I was in the United States Marine Corps for eight years, completed my service obligation and got my honorable discharge,” Adiong related.

“I then went back to school using my GI bill to get an education and got my bachelor of science degree in computer information systems from Devry University in Fremont,” Adiong explained. “When I graduated in 2001, it was the height of the recession, so I had to get a job outside my field. Most recently I was working with Amazon logistics taking care of the logistics side delivering packages for Amazon.com.”

Adiong said it was very significant that the vice president visited and that he was grateful to PG&E. “This is a great opportunity,” he added.

Biden stressed two things to be taken care of to take advantage of the economic resurgence and to keep the edge: Have the most modern infrastructure as, currently, the United States is ranked 26th in the world in infrastructure; have skilled workforce. Biden cited the efforts of PG&E in coming up with its own Energy Pathways Program to train the and bolster their workforce.

After meeting with CEOs of 350 Fortune 500 companies, leaders, mayors, governors, nonprofits, educators Biden said he learned that between now and the beginning of the 2020s, “we need many more information technologists, web developers, computer programmers, people who will just need to undergo 18-20 week programs and can read codes — jobs are there we just need to match with skills. We (also) need 600,000 more registered nurses (and) 100,000 skilled workers for manufacturing plants.”

Investing in workforce

Oakland mayor schaaf6-1

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

Welcoming Biden to PG&E’s Oakland plant, Tony Earley, chairman, CEO and president, reiterated the company’s support for the White House’s effort to invest building a modern workforce in California and the rest of the country.

“We believe that closing the so-called skills gap is one of the best ways to bring high quality jobs and opportunities for local communities and help those communities thrive. Our power pathways program is a showcase program,” Early said.

He said further that over the past six years, PG&E’s power pathways program has become a nationally recognized for not just creating jobs, but also creating long-term careers.

“All of the pathway students participating in this class are recent veterans. Of the 600 plus students that have graduated from our power pathways programs over half of them were military veterans,” Early added.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf thanked Biden for his visit to the skills training program being conducted especially for the veterans.

“Our veterans who have served our country really deserve an extra shot at getting into great jobs like the ones that are going to become available in industries like PG&E and utilities throughout this country,” Schaaf stated.

Schaaf mentioned that Oakland’s unemployment rate of 17 percent in 2010 has been rate cut in half in the last five years, thanks mainly to programs like PG&E’s power pathway.

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