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Training the Utility Workforce for the Future

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Julian Jackson's picture
Staff Writer, Energy Central, BrightGreen PR

Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

  • Member since 2020
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  • Oct 14, 2021

There are many issues that will impact utilities as they try to recruit new workers, and retain the existing ones. Previous articles have covered this issue, but to recap briefly – a large proportion of the workforce is aging, and on the way to retirement. Utilities have to compete with other, higher profile industries, for young entrants. The way utilities work is changing, with bidirectional power systems, advanced ICT and mobile working being just some of the challenges/opportunities.

Even the methods of training are changing. Probably in the past new entrants would get an induction at head office with lectures from professional trainers, as well as senior staff. Perhaps they would go on individual training courses as their careers progressed. Is that easy to do now? Just getting people together in one room is an obstacle. Remote conferencing is highly useful, but we are learning that it has drawbacks, in terms of lack of attention or people having meetings disrupted by children or pets, for example.

Both new and experienced utility workers have a huge amount they need to learn, all while continuing to meet the responsibilities of their day-to-day jobs. This barrage of new information can be difficult to assimilate using a traditional teaching approach that requires multi-hour or multi-day courses led by an in-person trainer.

Training has to be flexible, career-long and individualized.

So multi-parameter methods need to be used. Video courses, taken at the person's own pace, before they go to an online or instructor led training session. Surveys and questionnaires can ascertain how much they have learnt.

Where will they find the time to do this on top of their regular jobs? Perhaps the incursion of automation into all workforces will regain some time in the schedule? “MGI research has found that less than five 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.” Report: The future of work in America: People and places, today and tomorrow, McKinsey & Company.

Companies that adopt improved training methods will find it easier to recruit new staff and retain existing ones.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 14, 2021

Training has to be flexible, career-long and individualized.

This point can't be overstated. When people leave jobs, often it's because they don't feel valued, they aren't given the opportunity to grow, and they're unsatisfied. But regular training to add new skills is a great way to engage and retain employees. 

Julian Jackson's picture
Thank Julian for the Post!
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