SRP has long-standing relationships with many Native American tribes in Arizona, and we work together to protect our watershed and bring energy to the region.
These relationships are critical to the health of our communities and natural resources. SRP is deeply committed to sustaining tribal relations for future generation by investing in green energy at the Kayenta solar facility, finding opportunities to partner on humanitarian efforts and retraining workers for jobs of the future as we decommission coal plants.
Building a future from the past
After many years of attempts to find alternative solutions, we made the decision to close Navajo Generating Station (NGS), SRP’s flagship coal-fired power plant since the 1970s. The plant was closed in 2019.
For four decades, NGS employees — most of whom are members of the Navajo Nation — worked tirelessly to make the plant one of the safest and most reliable in the nation.
Of the approximately 300 NGS employees who chose to remain with the company following the closure of the plant, 100% were redeployed to other positions at SRP, primarily in the Phoenix area. This follows a commitment from SRP to offer positions to every NGS employee who wanted one.
This process, while challenging, led to some exciting opportunities and was why the SRP Apprenti Program was created.
Forging new career paths through the SRP Apprenti Program
Apprenti was introduced to SRP through the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation in early 2018. It became a solution to address the redeployment effort of NGS employees into Phoenix-area positions.
SRP partnered with Apprenti, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit operated by the Washington Technology Industry Association, to reskill NGS employees for mid-level IT business analyst positions.
“The goal of the Apprenti program at SRP was to provide exceptional opportunities to highly skilled employees during the redeployment of NGS,” said Tina Drews, SRP’s Director of Talent Management.
“Information technology is a growing area, especially in the utility industry, and we wanted to provide apprenticeships that would fill our needs for the workforce of the future,” said Drews. “In addition, our apprentices from NGS brought a wealth of knowledge and experience about operations, and that can be hard to find in traditional IT professionals.”
Former NGS employees such as Skyler June made a big transition from an industrial setting to an office setting while getting accustomed to city life.
“I worked at the plant for almost 11 years as an operation and maintenance specialist, where I watched the water, steam, fire and coal systems,” explained June. “I’ve always been good at different jobs, but a quiet office is definitely a different environment from being in a potentially hazardous, safety-critical setting.”
June was one of 10 former NGS employees retrained to be an information technology business analyst at SRP through Apprenti, one of the state’s first registered tech apprenticeships. The innovative retraining program received funding from the Coconino County Career Center and was taught by instructors from Coconino Community College and Northern Arizona University.
June and his Apprenti classmates remained paid SRP employees as they underwent three months of intense classroom instruction and a year of on-the-job training at an SRP facility in the Valley. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, they started their new tech careers with SRP.
For June, being an IT apprentice has provided both a new career path and a boost in confidence.
“I’ve always been one to try to achieve and climb up the ladder,” said June. “If the plant wasn’t closing down, I would be really striving to run the control room, but things didn’t go that way, so I just found a different ladder to climb. This was my lifeline and an amazing opportunity.”