Competitive Edge Workforce Development Program Launched Locally to Help Build a Diverse Workforce in Utility and Construction Trades

Competitive Edge Workforce Development Program Launched Locally to Help Build a Diverse Workforce in Utility and Construction Trades

Building a highly qualified and diverse workforce is important to our region’s economic prosperity. To that end, SDG&E is collaborating with some of our vendors to expand workforce development opportunities in the construction and utility trades. Recently, we partnered with Jingoli Power, one of our contractors, to host the first cohort of 13 trainees from the Competitive Edge workforce development program at our Skills Training Facility in Mission Valley, so they can see first-hand the variety of job opportunities available in the utility industry.

SDG&E’s Skills Training Facility is where we train most SDG&E field employees including electrical, gas, and customer service representatives. During the tour for the cohort, SDG&E employees like line workers, line instructors, gas operations instructors and substation electricians demonstrated various aspects of their jobs. The tour was a key component of the program because it connected classroom instruction to real-life jobs. Sempra Senior VP of Diversity and Community Partnerships Mitch Mitchell personally welcomed the trainees to the Skills tours and also helped raise money through a golf tournament to fund the program.

Karl Miller, CEO of Jingoli Power, first established the Competitive Edge program in New Jersey, the home of Jingoli Power corporate headquarters, and he brought it here to San Diego over the past year. The overall goal of the program, which provides paid training, was to ensure a project’s dollars remain in the community to build a stronger economy and more diverse workforce. The first cohort in the program graduated July 15 at San Diego City College, one of the coalition members that helped establish Competitive Edge. The program graduates will dive right into their new positions in entry-level union, project management, and administrative positions at one of the following companies: A.M. Ortega, Patriot General and Jingoli Power.

Jingoli Power recruits its trainees from the local community where they develop and manage projects. The focus is on youth from underrepresented communities who are passionate about a career in the utility and construction fields and would greatly benefit from a paid training career opportunity. The majority of the first cohort in San Diego came from Southeast San Diego and are all of African American descent.

“There is a shortage of underrepresented people in the construction and utilities industries. This program will go a long way in turning that tide. If we keep funding programs like Competitive Edge, we can make a sizable difference in a short period of time to fill that workforce gap,” said Bruce Mayberry, chairman of the board of the County of San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is also a member of the coalition that helped establish the Competitive Edge Program in San Diego.

The cohort recently graduated from the program at the San Diego City College. Local media covered the graduation ceremony and chronicled their journey.

How It Works

The paid six-week train-to-hire program begins once a project is underway. Upon graduation from the program, graduates are hired into a regular full-time position with benefits. Jingoli Power typically works with local community leaders in the areas where projects are being developed to identify potential candidates. Next, these candidates complete a series of interviews to demonstrate the best potential and commitment to successfully complete the program.

In addition to Jingoli Power, A.M. Ortega, San Diego City College and the San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, the coalition also includes the following partners: the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW Local) 47, JBM Energy Solutions, and APEX Solutions.

Another cohort is planned for early next year. If you know someone who would benefit from the program or would like additional information on how to get involved, reach out to Chimere Williams, DEI consultant on behalf of Jingoli Power at