The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is celebrating “New Jersey Careers in Utilities Week,” acknowledging the state’s public utility workforce and raising awareness of career opportunities within the industry. The occasion recognizes more than 28,000 men and women employed by New Jersey’s public utilities who work to ensure we can access essential services — water, wastewater, electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, and cable television — 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
To commemorate the initiative, Governor Phil Murphy issued a proclamation designating October 14–18, 2019 as “Careers in Utilities Week.” The designation was first introduced in 2016 by the New Jersey Legislature through joint resolution, and was modeled after the Center for Energy Workforce Development’s national “Careers in Energy Week.”
“Our utility workforce is essential to the rhythm of our everyday lives,” said Joseph L. Fiordaliso, President, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. “Their efforts ensure that when we flip the switch our lights turn on, when we turn on the tap we have water, and when we’re cold we can turn up the heat. Without their hard work, we would not have the comforts we sometimes take for granted.”
Because utility workers often operate in the background—gaining attention only when crisis strikes—there is room for increased awareness about career opportunities. The Center for Energy Workforce Development estimates that nearly 55 percent of the electric and natural gas utility workforce may need to be replaced within the next decade due to retirements.
To address this situation, BPU has partnered with the regulated utilities to raise awareness within schools across the state about careers within the utility sector. Throughout this week, BPU will participate in events highlighting opportunities in the utility industry, and staff will share perspectives working for the state regulatory agency.
Utility careers represent stable, good paying jobs that are vital to the welfare and prosperity of our state. The utility workforce operates and maintains $37 billion in critical infrastructure that serves as the backbone to our state’s economy. During the last recession, the utilities sector was one of the few industries that maintained positive growth, adding 2,200 jobs in New Jersey alone.
According to data from the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development, the average utility industry salary in New Jersey was $123,350 in 2018, with entry level salaries starting around $52,600. Top occupational groups in the industry include HVAC and refrigeration mechanics, meter readers, lineworkers, and power plant operators.
New Jersey’s public utilities offer a multitude of opportunities for individuals of diverse backgrounds, careers stages, and levels of education to gain meaningful employment. As the state embraces a new clean energy economy, it also presents a chance to welcome new opportunities for utility workforce development. Already, solar photovoltaic (PV) installer is the state’s fastest-growing occupation, with offshore wind development expected to bring an additional 15,000 clean energy jobs in the next few years.
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