People are our most valuable resource. We recognize that recruiting, developing, and retaining top talent require a clear vision, organizational alignment, and hard work. That’s why in 2019 we introduced a new talent management model focused on workforce strategy, talent development, and organizational effectiveness as the three foundational organizational focus areas to create a positive and differentiating experience throughout our employee lifecycle.
The foundational building block of our talent management program is workforce planning to determine the anticipated demand for positions and skills. In 2019, we piloted a more integrated approach to workforce planning with our transmission business unit. This approach combined an attrition forecast, hiring projections, and a deep dive into business objectives to create business-specific strategies. Creating specific staffing and talent sourcing plans with near- and long-term actions followed.
Our workforce-development and talent-attraction programs matured in 2019. We built new relationships with strategic partners through our dedicated college diversity and military recruiters. Company representatives attended more than 100 recruiting events and made contact with nearly 4,000 potential candidates.
We continued to build partnerships with local colleges and universities. In one instance, we created an externship program that enabled four university professors to spend the summer working at an Entergy nuclear plant. They’re using their experiences to enhance engineering and technical curricula. We also further expanded our development efforts into high schools. We partnered with the State of Mississippi and two school districts to create a new Energy Career Academy, with enrollments beginning in 2020.
In 2019, we expanded our workforce consortia initiatives through our partnership with other members of the Arkansas Energy Workforce Consortium. We broke ground on a line worker training pole yard for the new Certified Line Workers Training Program next to the University of Arkansas–Pulaski Tech Business and Industry Center. Combined with the Louisiana programs at Fletcher Technical Community College in Schriever and at Delgado Community College in New Orleans, we are training and hiring for a workforce that is in demand.
In recognition of our intentional focus on workforce development and military and diversity recruiting, Entergy received the 2019 HIRE Vets Medallion Program Platinum Award from the U.S. Department of Labor and the 2019 Statewide Impact Award from the Louisiana Community and Technical College System Foundation.
Our most important talent pipeline is our internship program, and 2019 was a record year. Our summer internship class consisted of an all-time high 248 interns working in departments across the company. Improvements to the intern experience in 2019 included increased cross-functional intern engagements, new resources for hiring managers, and a refreshed JumpStart program — our signature event that brought 177 interns together in New Orleans to network, meet senior executives, and learn how to be successful in today’s corporate environment.
All the planning, developing, and attracting we undertake means little if we can’t hire top talent. To increase our effectiveness in this area, we reorganized our talent acquisition team in 2019 to create full-service teams aligned to specific business units. Not only do we expect to improve the efficiency of our recruiting processes, but we also believe that aligning recruiters to specific business units increases the recruiters’ strategic acumen and improves the quality of candidates.
As outlined in 2018 benchmarking research from the Electric Power Research Institute, Entergy is a leader among our peer utilities in successfully attracting and retaining a vibrant workforce. As our experienced workforce approaches retirement age, we have successfully recruited skilled employees who can deliver on evolving business objectives. This secures our workforce of tomorrow.
Once individuals become employees, they begin their Entergy careers by participating in our new employee orientation program. In addition to learning about our culture and networking with other new employees, participants meet with senior leaders from across the organization and visit several Entergy locations in the New Orleans area to gain hands-on insights into our business operations. One key enhancement in 2019 was the addition of a community-service project in which new employees partnered with a local food bank to sort and pack meal kits.
Professional development is the responsibility of every employee at Entergy. All employees are encouraged to create individual development plans to outline their development goals, performance opportunities, and career interests. Nearly 9,400 employees and 95 percent of supervisors had IDPs at the end of 2019. Entergy also continues to use our Grow Your Career framework, which conveys in four simple steps a path for employees desiring to invest and advance in their professions. We believe our ability to offer employees a diversity of job opportunities throughout their careers is an advantage. It’s not unusual for a corporate employee to pursue an operations role, or vice versa.
Entergy also offers a full suite of learning support programs to employees, including an educational reimbursement program, a partnership with Cappella University for those who wish to pursue advanced degrees, and access to eCornell and New Horizons learning platforms for online classes. In addition, a full roster of classroom training is available at Entergy locations. In 2019, Human Resources Training delivered more than 22,000 student hours of content to employees across the company.
A key focus in 2019 was improving the employee learning experience with enhanced internal, web-based training. This included launching a new learning management system with updated capabilities. The learning management system enabled us to retire 16 separate legacy learning systems and consolidated roughly half of our training onto a single platform. A project to onboard the balance is underway in 2020. Another important step forward in improving the employee experience was organizing our learning content into a new enterprise employee curriculum with eight defined learning series and clear ties to organizational objectives.
We also invest in our leaders through targeted leadership development programs and processes. Programs are linked by a common language and set of leadership concepts and approaches that are tailored to different leadership levels. In 2019, more than 430 employees participated in our leadership programs, which included a heightened focus on front-line leaders who are key to driving employee engagement. We also launched a new approach to onboarding supervisors, including a one-stop shop intranet portal with practical training on systems and processes that managers must use. In addition, we launched a redesigned version of our Foundational Leadership Program for front-line leaders that increases the amount of practice time on core leadership skills and introduces pre- and post-assessments to gauge proficiency.
The final focus area within the talent management model is organizational effectiveness, which is aimed at aligning and enhancing team and individual performance with business objectives, effectively deploying talent through succession planning, and managing workforce and organizational transitions. In 2019, we focused on increasing the effectiveness of our talent management processes while reducing administrative burden. For example, we changed our talent evaluation and succession planning processes to enhance the quality of leadership team conversations through new, simple-to-read talent cards summarizing employee strengths, opportunities, and career aspirations. We integrated talent assessment and succession planning conversations to strengthen the tie between development actions and preparing for the next career move.
Our nuclear organization introduced new career maps for all leadership positions, a new tool to measure the effectiveness of individual development plans, and increased succession planning to twice a year. We also completed our first group of 16 and launched a second group of 29 high-potential leaders through the Vision, Ownership, Leadership, and Transformation development program. As a result of these efforts in 2019, 80 percent of leadership hires in nuclear came from internal succession slates, an improvement from approximately 70 percent in 2018.
As demand increases for some skills and jobs and decreases for others, we will naturally experience some disruption to the workforce. To prepare, Entergy envisioned a new model for providing coordinated, consistent workforce redeployment and reskilling support. Launching in 2020, the EnAble Workforce Transition Center will serve as an in-house resource center for business leaders, HR professionals, and employees managing organizational transitions. The goal is to ensure fair treatment of all employees, enable timely decisions, and accelerate our transformation through reskilling programs.