Preparing the Utility Workforce of Tomorrow
by Bob Shively, Enerdynamics President and Lead Facilitator
“The day-to-day nature of work could change for nearly everyone as intelligent machines become fixtures in the American workplace.” ~ The future of work in America: People and places, today and tomorrow , McKinsey & Company
The gas, power, and utilities industry of today is being asked to navigate an ongoing transition through technology enhancements, market evolution, regulatory changes, and new customer relationships. Employees are being told their companies must become digital, distributed, decarbonized, and customized. Automation and data management are ongoing trends. So, what does this mean for the utility workforce? Change is upon us, but more likely than the massive layoffs past changing industries have seen, utility employees will still have their jobs but are going to be challenged to expand their horizons and learn new skills to do their work in new ways. Let’s look at some examples:
1. The energy company will become as much a communications and technology company as it is a construction company. Workers will need to be skilled in both energy networks, communications networks, and IT systems
2. Data scientists working in concert with more traditional employees will be required to optimize the use of the system and to provide customer services in increasingly safe and reliable ways.
3. Employees experienced in generation technologies will use their skills to provide new energy sources in innovative manners.
4. And customer-facing employees will apply their knowledge of consumers to provide high levels of service using the latest in modern technology.
“MGI research has found that less than 5 percent of occupations can be automated in their entirety, but within 60 percent of jobs, at least 30 percent of activities could be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.” ~ The future of work in America: People and places, today and tomorrow, McKinsey & Company
Employees will still need to be able to do what they do today well, but they will also need to do a whole lot more to adapt to the new environment. Employees will be the key to driving the transition, but they will need the tools to continually update their skills and knowledge. Utilities will struggle to bring in new workers with the requisite skills who also have the knowledge necessary to run a utility. Much more likely than bringing in waves of newbies, is that much of the workforce will need be developed through re-training.
“In a tight labor market, employers from Amazon to JPMorgan are trying to get better at retraining the workers they have.” ~ Why Companies Are Failing at Reskilling, Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2019
The former CEO of Southern California Edison liked to use a borrowed quote from Charles Darwin to challenge his employees to prepare to the future:
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
In the coming years, it will be the job of utility management and human resources to provide the tools to help utility workers adapt rapidly.
Need to help your employees become more aware of the key facts and issues associated with working for a utility in the current changing world? Enerdynamics is the premium source of utility working training. For example, the online course Introduction to the Utility can give any worker the essential background they need in less than two hours using a phone, tablet, or their computer. Explore our whole online course catalog and our gas and electric utility training seminars at www.enerdynamics.com.
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