WASHINGTON, July 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy, today outlined to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee ways the utility plans to bolster its military hiring practices. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130312/LA75651LOGO) "I'm pleased to be able to speak to the committee about our long standing commitment to veterans and our plans to increase those efforts," Fowke said. "We value the skills, commitment and diversity that veterans bring to the workplace. "Our industry faces a significant need for new, qualified employees as over half of our workforce is eligible to retire over the next 10 years. It only makes sense for us to enhance our ability to identify, attract and hire from this pool of qualified, skilled candidates." Attractive qualities exhibited by military-experienced employees include the ability to learn quickly, support a team environment, respect procedures, prioritize safety, multi-task and provide leadership to those around them. Currently, about 12 percent of Xcel Energy's 11,000 employees are veterans, with many represented in management. The company forecasts a need for linemen, engineers, and operations and maintenance personnel. In his comments, Fowke thanked U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, vice chair of the joint committee, for their work in helping former military transition into the workforce. Fowke complimented Klobuchar for introducing the Veterans to Paramedics Transition Act, which would provide private sector certification for military emergency medical services personnel. Fowke called the approach valuable, suggesting it could act as a model for other industries. Fowke outlined several things that can be done to help veterans transition into the private sector, including translating military skills into job requirements, strengthening résumés and improving interviewing skills. Fowke said helping veterans achieve certifications and credentials relevant to the industry would also improve their chances of obtaining private sector jobs.