PGE helps women and girls envision a bright future

Hands-on booth at Women in Trades Career Fair drives awareness of opportunities

May 5, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland General Electric will be at the Women in Trades Career Fair this week helping women and girls envision themselves as part of the future of its workforce. (See below for details.)

Through hands-on workshops, utility pole climbing, bucket truck rides and the chance to work with hotsticks — special tools linemen use to work safely with high-voltage equipment — PGE hopes to attract people to its trades occupations who may not otherwise know about the potential this type of career can offer.

The largest nontraditional career fair of its kind, the Women in the Trades Career Fair is put on by Oregon Tradeswomen Inc., and PGE has participated for the last twelve years. By attracting more women to the trades, organizers and participants aim to address the imminent gap in the labor force that will be created with the record levels of upcoming retirements of skilled trades workers.

Energy companies refer to the wave of looming retirements as the “silver tsunami.” Nationally, more than 60 percent of energy industry workers have the potential to retire by the year 2020, and the trend is similar at PGE.

“Participating in the Women in Trades Career Fair is a great way for PGE to plan for the workforce of the future,” said Arleen Barnett, PGE's vice president of human resources, diversity & inclusion and administration. “This is a great way to showcase the opportunities for advancement and competitive benefits a career in the electrical utility field can offer.”

“The ‘silver tsunami’ may pose a significant challenge to employers, but it represents an incredible opportunity for women interested in breaking into the field,” said Connie Ashbrook, executive director of Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. “The skilled trades jobs PGE and others are showcasing at the event are the critical family wage jobs that are so valuable to building a strong economy in Oregon.”

In addition to participating in career fairs, PGE takes other measures to create a stronger pipeline for attracting future workers. PGE is active in the classroom and community talking about opportunities, and now PGE offers a pre-apprentice program that is open to the public. Pre-apprentices have two years to complete an intense program that includes hands-on training as well as skill demonstrations. Upon successful completion of the pre-apprentice program, participants are offered the opportunity to enter into PGE's in-house apprenticeship program, putting them on track to becoming a journey-level line worker.

For more information about the Women in Trades Career Fair, visit For more information about career opportunities at PGE, visit

At a glance:
What: Women in Trades Career Fair

When: Middle school day — Thursday, May 8, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. High school day — Friday, May 9, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Careers for women day — Saturday, May 10, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: 16021 Airport Way, at the National Electrical Contractors Association and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Training Center

Who: Hosted by NECA/IBEW

Photographic opportunities: Women participating in hands-on bucket truck demonstrations, electricity “101” activities and pole climbing.

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About Portland General Electric Company
Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR) is a fully integrated energy company based in Portland, Oregon, serving approximately 887,000 customers in 51 cities. For more than 130 years, PGE has been delivering safe, affordable and reliable energy to Oregonians. Together with its customers, PGE has the No. 1 voluntary renewable energy program in the U.S. With approximately 3,000 employees across the state, PGE is committed to helping its customers and the communities it serves build a clean energy future. For more information, visit

For more information contact: Melanie Erdrmann, PGE, 503-464-8790,