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Electric utility and wastewater treatment plant need your help

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Posted: Friday, July 9, 2010 1:11 am | Updated: 4:40 am, Sat Jul 10, 2010.

Wanted: a highly skilled professional to join the city's workforce in positions that are continuously in demand, with great pay and benefits.

If you are one of the many people affected by the recession and are out of work, you should put some serious thought into training to be an electric lineman or work in a wastewater treatment plant.

The city of Lodi is one of many cities constantly recruiting for employees in these fields.

"The pool of candidates are shrinking at the same time as the regulations on substations and operations are increasing. It's kind of the perfect storm," said Dean Gualco, Lodi's human resources manager.

The workforce in both of the professions is aging, and the city has had to hire more people in both fields over the years to meet state standards, he said.

When the city advertises the positions for the Lodi Electric Utility or the White Slough wastewater treatment plant, the applicant pool is small, and sometimes underqualified, Gualco said.

For a city maintenance position, the city will receive 200 to 300 applications in the first week, Gualco said, and sometimes the city has to cap the number of resumes they accept. For an electric utility position, they sometimes only receive 30 applications in two weeks, and 95 percent of those people are underqualified, he said.

The small pool of candidates is one of the reasons the Lodi City Council voted to increase the salary range for an electrical technician at Wednesday's meeting.

The city originally advertised for the position at $86,472. The city received 32 applications for the job, which requires advanced skills to trouble-shoot problems with the electric systems generation, distribution and data systems.

Of the applicants, the city felt four were qualified enough to interview. After the interviews, the panel recommended they look for new candidates.

Gualco said city staff reviewed the job description and salary, and found that the city offered about 4 percent less than other utilities in the Central Valley, specifically Roseville, Modesto and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

"No one wants to raise salaries in this economy, but we can't attract people at the salary where we are hiring," Gualco said.

City staff recommended increasing the salary range by 5 percent. Councilman Larry Hansen said that to ensure the city filled the position in a "timely manner," the council should bump it up to 7 percent, raising the salary to $90,792.

"There is a high level of expertise needed to ensure we are protecting ourselves as a city against fines or litigation," Hansen said.

Councilmen Bob Johnson, Phil Katzakian and Hansen supported the 7 percent increase. Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce voted against it, saying she would like to see the quality of applicants attracted with the 5 percent increase first. Councilwoman Susan Hitchcock was absent from the meeting.

Gualco said he is unsure why there is a shortage of applicants in the utility positions.

"Maybe it's a lack of knowledge that these positions are available," Gualco said.

While they are good jobs, he said there can be downsides to working for an electric utility or wastewater plant.

The electricity field can be dangerous because workers are around high-voltage lines, sometimes on high polls, he said.

"You make an error in certain (Electric Utility Department) positions, and it will cost you your life," Gualco said.

At the wastewater plant, Gualco said the job is often has irregular hours.

"Plus, there are people who don't want to work at a wastewater plant for obvious reasons," he said.

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1 comment:

  • posted at 5:18 pm on Fri, Jul 9, 2010.

    Posts:

    "Maybe it's a lack of knowledge that these positions are available," Gualco said.

    I find that quote hard to believe. If you have that specific skill you should know where to look for that specialized job.

     

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