Pima Community College develops new certificate program with Southwest Gas and TEP

Pima Community College (PCC) is offering students a new program through a partnership with Tucson Electric Power (TEP) and Southwest Gas.

PCC’s new Energy Technology Certificate is a two-semester program that builds on a previous collaboration between the organizations to develop skills in the utility industry.

The content is chock-full of needed skill sets and the pathway is more efficient,” PCC Dean of Applied Technology Greg Wilson said. “Having a stronger energy certificate is going to expose them to different career options.”

According to Wilson, the program’s standards are driven by the industry while also integrating industry certifications – such as OSHA 10 Safety, NCCER, and NIMS – so students will be more qualified after graduating.

According to Southwest Gas Supervisor in Engineering Brittney Schmidt, the program will help fill the need for entry-level workers.

“Through the classes, students can evaluate if they have a knack for the jobs. Students who come out of classes are much more likely to stay with those jobs,” she said. “The new program gives us a lot of opportunities to attract more students and provide pipelines for our companies and our contractors. The key is that everyone is finding value in this – the utilities, the college and specifically, the students.”

The new program also gives students the ability to learn from TEP and Southwest Gas employees and open their eyes to different careers within the companies.

One of the beneficial things is that there are a lot of roles at TEP and Southwest Gas that folks don’t even have an idea exist,” Wilson said. “TEP has its own meteorologist who comes in to play on how they’re distributing energy across their different districts. So, while the Energy Technology certificate is just a starting point, it can certainly open up our students to options that could lead to 30-year careers.”

“This opens up doors for students. Through the certificate program, students will have a platform to build on for their futures,” JoLee Bracamonte, a TEP Talent Acquisition Specialist in Human Resources said in a statement.

PCC plans to enroll more than 50 students a year in the program.

Knowing that a student, in one semester, can walk out with not just the credit or certificate from Pima but [industry] certifications…that’s what’s exciting,” Wilson said.

Emily Richardson

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