The Utility Industry Is in Transition: Is Your Training Keeping Up?
by Bob Shively, Enerdynamics President and Lead Facilitator
Electric and natural gas utilities are going through what may prove to be the largest transition since becoming regulated monopolies back in the early 1900s. Given the pressures from climate change, decarbonization, digitization, technology advancement, decentralization, and customer evolution, the utility of 2030 is likely to look dramatically different than the utility model that has endured the last 100 years. As your company transitions into the new world, is your training keeping up? Let’s look at these transitions and then consider what this may mean for your training needs.
In the past, there was generally one key factor driving utility industry change at any given point in time – electrification of appliances in the 40s, construction of large power plants in the 60s and 70s, deregulation in the 80s and 90s, and advancements in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that dramatically reduced natural gas prices in the late 2000s. Now the industry is experiencing multiple pressures at the same time including climate change adaption, demands for decarbonization, and evolving customer desires. Technology is rapidly changing with the advent of low-cost renewables, batteries and other electric storage, digitized grids and end users, electrification of heating and vehicles, carbon capture, and green hydrogen. Regulators and markets are doing their best to adapt but often struggle to keep up. Customers are waking up to realize the potential of a multitude of service offerings and are demanding utilities offer such services or get out of the way of non-utility providers. Utilities are facing the need to be a leader in digitization of services and networks, decentralized energy resources, decarbonization of the energy supply chain, and customization of services. Meanwhile they must also adapt to climate change by hardening their networks against extreme hot and cold weather, hurricanes, and wildfires.
Given this dramatic transition, what do your employees need from their training?
- Development of traditional skills, but also much more: Given the age of the traditional workforce, a significant number of new employees are needed throughout the company. These employees need to learn basic traditional skills associated with building and operating an energy network, but employees of all levels need to learn a dramatic amount of new skills – communications technology, digital technology, data management and analysis, information technology, and much more. Each utility must identify the new skill sets needed and ensure that all employees are receiving the training required.
- Understanding of the big picture: As discussed above, the energy utility landscape is changing rapidly. Times of change create stress for employees who want to know where their company is headed and what their role is in the changing environment. Every employee needs some level of understanding of industry changes and how their company is evolving.
- No bias or politicization: Like seemingly everything these days, the energy transition has become highly politicized. Support for various supply sources and models for delivery of services and markets are now often associated with specific political viewpoints. Training must be delivered in a non-biased way with no agenda other than to help employees understand the world around them and develop the understanding they need to be successful.
- Ability to stay continually updated: With the rapid changes, employees need a way to stay continually up to date. The old days of training at the beginning of a career and then little or no retraining just won’t work. And employees will need curated tools to help them follow the rapid changes to their industry outside of their specific jobs.
All of this must be provided in a convenient way that fits into employees’ busy lifestyles. This is a big ask of training departments. Most utilities will find their needs are best met through internal and external resources providing a mix of live in-person, live virtual, on-demand online, and other non-traditional resources. As the transition unfolds, your job as a learning expert at a utility company will become increasingly demanding, but excitingly, will also become increasingly important.
Here at Enerdynamics we offer a mix of utility-focused on-demand online, live-virtual, and live-classroom courses that can be customized for our specific utility partners. Coming in 2022 is our newest offering, Energy KnowledgeBase. It will provide nugget-sized, up-to-date learning on concepts and terminologies essential to all energy industry professionals. Energy KnowledgeBase is designed to be continually available alongside employees’ daily workflow. Get a sneak peek at this exciting new tool at www.energyknowledgebase.com and stay posted to www.enerdynamics.com for details on an official release date and licensing information.
Back to Energy Training Today