Gemini Energy Services Expands Its Workforce by Hiring Military Veterans: A Wind Powering America Success Story
August 16, 2012
In July 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a workforce development grant to San Diego-based Gemini Energy Services to create a training curriculum tailored to military veterans to transition their military skill sets into technical careers in the wind industry.
Veterans with military careers such as avionics technicians, radar technicians, aviation electricians, and electronics technicians have highly technical backgrounds. The skill sets these veterans have developed are applicable to the wind industry's increasingly advanced equipment. These veterans possess a fundamental and thorough understanding of component-level troubleshooting and, as a result, they are able to "hit the ground running" in the wind industry.
Since the start of the training program, Gemini has expanded its workforce from 23 technicians to 104 technicians and remains focused on training former military members as they transition to the private sector.
"As the industry expands, we see a need for skilled technicians to support the increasingly complex wind turbines that are erected throughout the nation," said Gemini senior director James Haley. "At the conclusion of the DOE project, Gemini will continue to hire and train former military veterans because of their technical backgrounds and the project success the wind industry has seen from their hard work."
In addition to curriculum development, the DOE award included funding for training equipment, tools, and wind turbine manufacturer training. Gemini was able to procure multiple wind turbine toolsets for classroom and on-the-job training, wind turbine tower rescue certification equipment, and wind-specific project safety equipment. To simulate wind project environments, Gemini installed turbine training equipment for realistic confined space and tower rescue training within the company's headquarters. Additionally, Gemini implemented a state-of-the-art Web-based system that allows all training to be tracked, with uploaded certifications as backup documentation for remote project site access. Technicians also attended original equipment manufacturer (OEM) courses where they utilized their skills on highly technical projects, including commissioning new wind turbines and conducting major repairs on existing project sites.
"The OEM training I received as part of the workforce development program with Gemini was extremely beneficial to building my experience in my wind career. We were trained on turbine electrical hazards and detailed schematics, and because of my background in the Air Force, I was able to pick up the concepts presented by the OEM trainer quickly and utilize those on their project sites as well as in other areas of my daily work," said David Holland, senior Gemini technician and military veteran. "The safety practices as well as the technical skills I learned have helped to enhance my overall performance on various job sites, keeping my coworkers and me safe and allowing the tasks to be performed in a timely manner."
Gemini's multi-phase workforce development curriculum includes wind-specific operations and maintenance training, component-level circuitry and schematic training, lockout-tagout training, confined space training, self and assisted tower rescue and competent climber certification, CPR/first aid certification, and a 10-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration certification.