O&M, POWERGEN

AEP Appalachian Power helping fund workforce skills effort in West Virginia

A West Virginia electric utility is supporting a workforce assessment project across 23 counties in that state.

Appalachian Power, a subsidiary of American Electric Power, is partnering with the Robert C. Byrd Institute at Marshall University to conduct the assessment and skills analysis called West Virginia WIN (Workforce Innovation Now). The Win project is evaluating the region to identify transferable skills and compatible occupations for unemployed and underemployed workers.

“This in-depth analysis of the regional workforce will define the region’s workforce assets and challenges, as well as available training opportunities and future employment trends,” said Brad Hall, vice president of external affairs with Appalachian Power. “Additionally, our economic development partners across the region will have the data necessary to successfully compete for new jobs and investment in West Virginia.”

The project will take input from employers, economic development partners, educators, students and the workforce at all levels, according to the release.

Boyette Strategic Advisors has been engaged to conduct the study. Using in-depth data analytics, Boyette is developing a series of recommended strategies to create a stronger workforce in the region by aligning and enhancing available programs and resources.

West Virginia’s unemployment rate was 4.7 percent—slightly above the national average at the time—in May 2019 but ballooned to more than 13 percent a year later after the novel coronavirus hit the United States.

Appalachian Power and the Byrd Institute are providing funding the complete the WIN project. The counties being assessed include Boone, Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Nicholas, Ohio, Putnam, Raleigh, Roane, Summers, Wayne and Wyoming.

Appalachian Power provides electricity to about one million customers in Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Its 32-GW generation mix includes coal, gas and renewables, such as hydro, wind and pumped storage hydro.