Empowering Communities

Clean Energy Transition Unlocks New, Rewarding Careers

October 12, 2023

Increasingly severe and destructive weather events. An expected massive increase in the adoption of all-electric technologies like electric vehicles (EVs). Explosive growth of new renewable energy sources. And a new law – the Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) – that is propelling the state toward a cleaner energy future.

ComEd is investing in the grid modernization required to withstand more extreme weather events and enable the rapid adoption of all-electric technologies and more renewable energy resources while ensuring continued outstanding reliability. And just as importantly, the transition to cleaner, more reliable energy is creating local, good-paying jobs.

In fact, a recent ComEd commissioned study found that the transition to clean energy could create a net increase of more than 150,000 jobs by 2050 in Illinois alone.

These new jobs require new kinds of training and new types of talent. ComEd is building a pipeline of skilled, diverse, and local talent through robust investments in workforce and training programs for a variety of careers in energy. And that’s not all – ComEd is focused on boosting recruitment for an area of the company that is central to maintaining the grid: engineering.

Over the next two years, ComEd will hire 159 new engineering and tech services roles. Nationwide, engineers are in high demand, and companies like ComEd are broadening recruitment strategies to bring more diverse candidates into a field which has historically seen underrepresentation by minorities and women.

To close the gap, ComEd earlier this year launched an innovative new program, the Power Up Academy, which focuses on removing barriers to entry level technical roles in the utilities for candidates that do not have a college degree. Increasing pathways to engineering work through the program is a partnership with local firms, Burns & McDonnell, HBK Engineering, LLC, KDM Engineering, Milhouse Engineering and Construction, Inc., Primera Engineers and V3 Companies, and Revolution Workshop, which administers the program. ComEd’s Director of Engineering Suneetha Parupalli was behind the effort to launch this new program, a partnership with the ComEd workforce development team.

“Addressing the ongoing effects of climate change will require all-hands-on deck, and the addition of diverse, new perspectives to this effort is exactly what we’re looking for,” said Suneetha. “Through the Power Up Academy, doors are being opened for entry level roles in design and project management for people without college degrees, something that isn’t accessible for many. Our expansion of career, training, and mentoring opportunities will provide more communities a seat at the table in developing solutions as the grid evolves for the future.”

Sixteen program participants are expected to graduate from the Power Up Academy this December, and their exposure to technical training and industry mentors is expected to land them full-time positions in technical roles, which provide family sustaining wages. In addition to competitive pay and benefits, careers in the engineering space for utilities offer a rewarding experience, including for nontraditional candidates who may not have originally envisioned themselves in the energy field.

As the clean energy economy grows, more candidates from different backgrounds are taking a closer look at these surging opportunities. Shanell Jones, a senior engineering design technician at ComEd, originally wanted to be an interior designer, but her time in a paid apprenticeship program made it possible for her to apply her passion for design to a rewarding career in electrical engineering.

“I took the non-traditional route and built my skills on what was available to me. I’ve learned that experience is just as important as education, and internships or apprenticeships can provide both,” said Shanell. “It’s been proven that having people from different backgrounds coming together to solve problems is making a difference in the quality of the work we do. These training programs are driving the diversity and inclusion needed to transition us to a cleaner, more equitable future.”

Engineering career opportunities are on the rise, but there are a variety of roles that will need to be filled by ComEd and its energy partners in the region. To learn more about future roles and training programs, please visit www.comed.com/cleanenergyjobs.