Saint Paul, MN – State Senator Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Minneapolis) participated in the First Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s planning meeting on Workforce Diversity in the Energy Industry on Tuesday, May 28. She provided an overview of the 2019 Diversity Legislative Initiative she co-authored with Rep. Ruth Richardson.
The purpose of the planning meeting was to find ways to overcome the energy industry’s diversity challenges and find opportunities to encourage Minnesota utility companies to improve their efforts to diversify their workforce and strengthen their connection to more diverse suppliers.
Sen. Torres Ray authored the legislation to accomplish these goals. The legislation puts forth a model to review trends that have shaped employment in the energy sector along with the demographics of contractors and workers participation in the energy industry today.
“I am very interested in collaborating with the Public Utilities Commission to move this legislation forward to help recruit and retain more women, more veterans and more minorities in the different utility fields,” Sen. Torres Ray said. “What we heard during the summit last year is that utilities are struggling to complete projects, they need more workers and we need to connect that need with the employment needs that exist in communities of color.”
Sen. Torres Ray is working with the MPUC to bridge that gap. Some utilities are already implementing innovative practices such as apprenticeship programs and enhancing their Human Resources recruitment practices, but these efforts have not generated the traction and volume they need to build a strong, more diverse labor force.
“Other states have implemented utility diversity reports successfully and it has helped them secure the information on successes and struggles as well as address their labor shortage,” Sen. Torres Ray said. “I am hopeful my legislation will benefit the utilities workforce, provide good paying jobs for communities of color, and help the labor force of the future reflect the populations served by the utilities.”