CPCC launches Center for Energy Training

last modified Jan 28, 2013 09:28 AM

Companies within the Charlotte region’s energy cluster and their subcontractors now have a partner in developing and enhancing their talent pipelines to meet their current and future workforce needs. Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) has established the Center for Energy Training (CET) to help ensure workforce development needs are met in this important economic and employment sector.

CPCC has created the CET with in-depth input from several employers in the energy sector, including Siemens, The Shaw Group, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, 02 Energies, Celgard, ABB, Carotek, Coalogix, Areva, Parsons, URS, Westinghouse, Zachary, Lime Energy, Toshiba, Abundant Power, Crowder Construction, and Balfour Beatty Construction. The college is launching the new initiative with several goals in mind:

  • Improve the Charlotte region’s energy sector talent pipeline by identifying existing and anticipated job opportunities and their requisite skills and competencies; including the educational and technical skills gaps most common among job applicants and incumbent workers;
  • Identify how human capital needs are projected to change over the next three to five years within the energy sector and how those changes will affect the talent pipeline;
  • Foster collaboration between energy cluster employers and CPCC to enhance current college programs and develop new programs;
  • Help energy sector employers better understand the available workforce development and talent pipeline resources available at CPCC;
  • Work with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and energy cluster employers to promote pathways into the energy industry; and
  • Expand local partnerships with organizations like EPIC at UNC Charlotte and the Centralina Council of Governments.


“Through this partnership with CPCC, Charlotte area businesses, such as Shaw, are able to leverage talented individuals to help grow the next generation of experienced energy professionals. This not only helps to boost the local economy, but also continues the growth of the energy hub in this region,” said Jeff Merrifield, senior vice president of business development at Shaw's Power Group based out of Charlotte and a board member of the CPCC Foundation.

CPCC will leverage a number of its existing associate degree, diploma and certificate programs to serve energy sector companies and will develop new programs as needed. These existing programs include:

  • Engineering Science
    • Civil
    • Electrical
    • Mechanical
  • Engineering Technology
    • Mechatronics
  • Construction Management
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Applied Technologies
    • Electrical Technician
    • Non-Destructive Examination/Testing
  • Welding
  • Energy Industry Fundamentals Certification
  • Apprenticeships
  • Cooperative Education
  • Career and College Promise tracks – high school students earn college credits in tracks that lead to high-demand careers
  • Project Management
  • Process Improvement Training – Lean and Six Sigma
  • Communication Skills
  • LEED Green Associate Certification
  • Certified Supply Chain Professional.


“The ability and success of the Charlotte region’s economy to sustain and grow its energy sector will depend, in large part, on how well we develop talent pipelines to ensure employers have a reliable source of qualified and highly skilled workers,” explained Richard Zollinger, vice president for Learning at CPCC. “Through the partnerships we seek to establish with the Center for Energy Training, we can help secure the viability of energy-sector employers for years to come.

“The key for the Charlotte region is to establish these partnerships right now. Every day we wait is a degree of competitive advantage lost to other regions in the U.S. and around the world,” Zollinger said.

CPCC anticipates the early focus areas of the CET will include the expansion of apprenticeship programs involving CPCC and CMS students, multiple engineering disciplines, advanced manufacturing, welding and non-destructive examination, and the rapid growth of Career & College Promise programs, through which high school students earn college credits tuition free in specific career or college preparation tracks.

Bill Heitman has returned to CPCC to serve as the college’s executive energy advisor and director of the CET. Prior to retiring from CPCC in 2009, Heitman served as executive director of learning services, representing the college to the business community. Before joining CPCC, his business career included more than 35 years of experience in sales, marketing and manufacturing, where he held senior management roles with both large and small consumer products manufacturing and foreign sourcing organizations. He has managed many quality and process improvement initiatives, producing significant profit enhancements through reductions in manufacturing complexity and asset redeployment.


As a first step in launching the CET, Heitman and other college staff and faculty will meet with energy sector companies to better understand specific skills gaps and discuss current and future talent pipeline needs. From there, the CET can determine how to assist individual companies most effectively.

“Recent studies show the most lasting solutions to improving the education-to-work journey are those that involve collaboration between educators and employers within a particular industry cluster,” Heitman said. “This is exactly why the Center for Energy Training was established. Working together with the Charlotte region’s energy employer cluster, the CET will identify educational and technical skills gaps and apply existing curriculum or develop new programs and pathways to address them.”

For more information about CPCC’s Center for Energy Training, contact Heitman at 704.330.4677 or bill.heitman@cpcc.edu.

Central Piedmont Community College is the largest community college in North Carolina, offering close to 300 degree and certification programs, customized corporate training, market-focused continuing education, and special interest classes. CPCC is academically, financially and geographically accessible to all citizens of Mecklenburg County. In 2002, the National Alliance of Business named CPCC the Community College of the Year for its response to the workforce and technology needs of local employers and job seekers through innovative educational and training strategies.