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Learning and Growing

Sustaining our workforce: learning transforms team members and their companies

A learning organization helps team members succeed, advance their careers and sharpen their skills – a benefit to the organization and the individual.
Learning Growing

 

TECO Energy prides itself on being a "learning organization," a company that helps its team members learn and continually transforms itself.

The Performance and Development team at Tampa Electric provides the foundation, architecture and learning processes that help attract, motivate and retain quality team members who ultimately impact the success of all TECO Energy companies. They offer learning opportunities at all levels of the organization in workshop settings, at job sites and through a growing library of eLearning courses accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week from any Internet connection.

TECO Energy's Performance and Development programs focus primarily on practical knowledge and the skills applicable to the job. A total of 2,587 team members participated in formal learning activities in 2013. Those team members also completed 1,972 online courses.

TECO Energy's array of education, training and development programs meets the needs of work groups and team members:
Development
Cultivation
Craft
Higher Ed
  • Development
    • New team members quickly acclimate to their new environment through the Sponsorship and Right Start programs that provide one-on-one mentoring and a day-long overview in a classroom setting.
    • Leadership Development programs are available at all levels from individuals contemplating a first-time leadership role through the So You Want to be a Supervisor and Emerging Leader programs to experienced supervisors and managers through the Manager's Edge program. Topics range from TECO Energy-specific training for business, core values and inclusion training. Launched in 2010, TECO 101 is a five-week program that provides a broad overview of the electric and gas operations.

    • Leadership Development
       
    • Community Leadership - Team members also participate in more than a dozen external community leadership development programs in cities and counties across our service territory and at the state level.
  • Cultivation
    Students
     
    • Students get practical professional experience through four student employment programs: Business Cooperative Education for high school students and Cooperative Education, Intern and InRoads for college students. InRoads focuses on minority honors students, and all programs offer students an opportunity for professional growth while meeting the needs of the company.
    • TECO Energy team members transform engineering into entertainment and education when they donate their time and talents to community outreach programs such as the annual USF Engineering Expo, Junior Achievement's Diploma-See and BizTown and the Great American Teach-In. Besides the educational value, the programs showcase company programs and services for the community. Activities include bucket truck rides for children, electrical safety demonstrations, displays of Tampa Electric's power stations and opportunities for students to simulate working as customer service professionals, energy analysts, engineers, executives and meter readers. The students someday may become customers of Tampa Electric or Peoples Gas or even team members. The work and new wall displays give them all a better view of how electricity and natural gas serve their community.
  • Craft
    • Tampa Electric has a dedicated training program called PowerPros that is considered the "gold standard" in the industry. It has been sold to more than 100 electric utilities across the nation. It also has been validated by the Florida Department of Education. Management at each power station dedicated a trainer to provide assessment and training through programs for new workers and specialized training on existing and new technologies for existing workers.
    • Peoples Gas' training facility in Avon Park, Fla., resembles a small neighborhood with four 100-square-foot buildings. It hosts courses on varying responsibilities from initiating gas service to investigating leaks. Call-center team members undergo a two-day orientation at the facility to understand what takes place in the field.
  • Higher Education
    • The Tuition Assistance Program reimburses 100 percent for accredited college tuition and lab fees, provided the team member has received no other assistance (grants, scholarships or loans). The reimbursement offered is up to an annual maximum of $10,000 and lifetime maximum of $20,000.
    • The Educational Partnerships Program offers on-site college courses through local community colleges and universities:
      • Hillsborough Community College (HCC) offers an Associate of Applied Sciences (AAS) degree that gives students class credit and credit for on-the-job training and experience, facilitating advancement. HCC also offers an Associate of Arts degree to TECO Energy team members.
      • Saint Leo University's "TECO Project" offers a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in business administration.
      • University of South Florida offers a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in organizational leadership and supervision.
Education Benefits / Tuition Reimbursement
Making college dreams a reality

As a learning organization, TECO Energy offers a rich Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) as well as on-site college classes for apprehensive, time-challenged team members like Contact Center Supervisor Tina Findley to further their education and their value to the organization.

Findley began taking advantage of the Tuition Assistance Program in 2011, after a hiatus from college of nearly two decades.

At age 42, when contemplating going back to school, Findley recalls telling a peer, "I'll be 45 or 46 when I graduate – I can't go back at my age." But, her co-worker put things into perspective. He said, "You're going to be 46 anyway, why not have your bachelor's degree when you turn 46." Those words stuck with her.

"At that time, TECO Energy offered a program where we could attend school at one of our own facilities," said Findley. "I was apprehensive about going to a college campus after all of these years, so it seemed like the perfect fit. I started taking classes at our Skills Training Center through Hillsborough Community College (HCC) and then transferred to Eckerd College, where I am near completion of my junior year. When I graduate, I will be the first person ever in my family to graduate college, so my family keeps me going."

Findley is an inspiration to others who think they can't manage the commitment to pursue their educational dreams. "I parent my children alone, work full time in a supervisory capacity, attend school, work on homework and find time for loved ones. So, if you think you can't do it, you're just not trying hard enough. You can do it," says Findley.

About tuition assistance
The company Tuition Assistance Program reimburses 100 percent of tuition and lab fees, provided no other assistance is involved, such as grants, scholarships or loans, up to the annual maximum of $10,000 and lifetime maximum of $20,000 per participant. Grade requirements must also be met–C or higher for undergraduate classes and B or higher for graduate classes.

Worksite college classes
Since 2007, the company has offered Hillsborough Community College worksite courses at the Skills Training Center for an Associates of Applied Sciences (AAS) degree, giving students class credit and on-the-job training and experience credit. HCC also offers a worksite Associates of Arts degree, which Findley received prior to attending Eckerd College.

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