Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) announced that it will offer two new training courses for recently discharged veterans, providing a career path into the energy industry through the utility’s PowerPathway program.

PG&E is offering the veterans-only energy training courses at American River College in Sacramento, Calif., part of the company’s commitment to helping recently discharged veterans find work and grow a source of skilled utility workers. PG&E expects more than 40 percent of its work force will be retirement-­eligible within the next five years and believes veterans can be high-potential candidates for these positions.

“Unemployment rates are as high as 29 percent for young veterans, about 65 percent above those for other Americans in the same age group,” said Tony Earley, PG&E’s president and a former U.S. Navy officer. “PG&E has the opportunity to match our work force needs with the great technical skills and leadership ability that veterans offer.”

In addition to veterans-only courses, PowerPathway partners with community colleges, universities and community-based training organizations throughout Northern and Central California to offer other industry-related courses that are open to all qualified candidates.

As part of its commitment to the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative, PG&E has set a goal for PowerPathway to provide career and technical training to approximately 250 California residents, including 100 veterans, and to place approximately two-thirds of those workers into energy and utility industry jobs through 2013.

“Taking care of our veterans is a sacred duty that we must never turn from,” said U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento). “As these brave men and women transition to civilian life, both the public and private sector must ensure our veterans have the support they need, and that includes educational and job opportunities. The energy training course being offered by PG&E will help our veterans find good paying jobs and will provide an ever-growing job sector with a highly skilled work force.”

The 240-hour PowerPathway Bridge to Utility Worker for Veterans course offers training designed to increase participants’ knowledge of the energy and utility industries, pre-employment test preparation and soft skills development. The course will begin in January 2013.

The PowerPathway Welding for Veterans course provides fundamental training for pipe-welding techniques and safety procedures unique to the utilities industry. The course begins in May 2013.

Through 2011, nearly 150 former military personnel have been trained through the Bridge to Pre-Apprentice/Utility Worker and Bridge to Utility Equipment Mechanic programs. PG&E and other companies in the energy industry have hired approximately 72 percent of those trainees.

View a schedule of PowerPathway programs open to new enrollment in 2013 at www.pge.com/powerpathway.