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Effectively planning for the energy exodus

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  • 1. Effectively planningfor the energy exodusWith technological advancementsand a retirement surge on the way,how can the energy sector preparetheir workforce for the future? With a recent survey conducted by the non-profit The energy employment picture Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) In the next decade, this sector will face a finding that up to 49 percent of the nation’s significant amount of changes while provi- electric and natural gas workers will need to be ding a wide variety of business and career replaced by 2013, the energy and utility sectors opportunities for those in it. Some of the most are at a pivotal crossroads. notable changes will come from the aging workforce, pronounced skill gaps in certain As the industry begins to shift, managers areas, and changing energy technology. will need to be more resourceful and proactive in workforce planning strategies and the re- While the recession has temporarily alleviated cruitment of junior employees. Although many the amount of individuals choosing to retire, managers in the industry have known about the average employee is already in his or her this impending shift, the recession allowed a bit mid-to late-40s with the traditional retirement more flexibility as many workers chose to stay age being 55 in this sector. This leads most employed. Now, with the economy recovering, industry experts to believe that the downturn it’s imperative that workforce planning strategies has simply delayed and increased the need be implemented to prepare for the future. for future replacements in the graying sector, as the pool of eligible retirees will be larger than it was a few years ago. “The Task Force believes the United States is facing a critical shortage of trained professionals to maintain the existing electric power system and design, build, and operate the future electric power system. The implications of this shortfall are wide-ranging and of national significance.” National Commission on Energy Policy’s Task Force on America’s Future Energy Jobs, 2009
  • 2. Effectively planning for the energy exodus Additionally, this sector is suffering from a lack of incoming young people with the science, math and technology skills needed to staff these upcoming positions, particularly as green energy and smart grids become a reality. It is essential that both academic and professional training continue to evolve as a variety of new professions and skill sets form. peak workforce need. Alternately, if The National Commission on Energy Policy construction is delayed and / or several echoes these thoughts. While near-term demand energy-generating assets are deployed for skilled electric power will be driven primarily within the same year, workforce demand by retirement, long-term demand will remain will be more volatile overall, with a high high as a result of the need for employees peak and concentration of demand around to operate and maintain the new facilities that year. This variability reinforces the being constructed in pace with population need for workforce planning as climate and expanding energy demands. Through 2012, policy forms. the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) expects that through general attrition and retiring workers, Source: Center for Energy Workforce Development nearly 26,000 workers will be needed—45 Preparing your workforce percent of the current nuclear power workforce. While some may continue to operate in a Some additional food for thought: reactive mode with regard to their workforce • The electric power generation, transmission strategies, organizations with a viable plan and distribution industry currently employs will emerge as the winners in the industry. about 400,000 people; a large fraction By understanding an organization’s overall (30–40 percent) of those workers will be business strategy, managers can determine eligible for retirement, or leave the industry the talent needed, and prioritize needs for other reasons, by 2013. moving forward. • As new technologies emerge, demand for This can be done by figuring out the number skilled workers to operate and maintain the of people and skills needed in an organization, electric generation systems of the future will identifying the gaps and action items needed increase steadily. The number of additional for closing the gaps, and deciding on the actions workers that will be needed by 2030 is and investments needed to make this happen. roughly estimated at 60,000—an increase Katherine Jones, chief executive officer of of almost 15 percent. Independent Consulting Services, a workforce • When new energy-generating assets planning and optimization firm, notes that are deployed at a steady annual pace, “workforce planning is not about hiring in the workforce demand is spread out over next six months,” but determining what the more years and has a lower level of organization’s “workforce [will] look like in three to five years.”
  • 3. Effectively planning for the energy exodus As an organization works on business strategy, route. The transition of their workforce will it’s essential that hiring managers also look at be substantially smoother than that of one other important factors, like retention strategies undergoing an immediate drop-off, which for mature employees, training and augmenta- in turn yields improved retention and tion of junior staff, and a documented transfer employee engagement. of knowledge. Transferring knowledge to the Retaining your talent next generation of energy professionals One of the most effective ways to manage a Although flexible work options are a successful shortage of energy professionals while building way of extending baby boomers’ time in the the knowledge base of junior employees is by workforce, the energy sector is still facing the extending the period of time that the current juggernaut of a substantially aging workforce, generation stays employed. rapidly-changing technology, and expanding energy initiatives. Other than financial motivation, one key way of retaining employees is through a flexible This makes it essential that organizations workforce. According to a survey done on recruit young professionals to learn current workplace flexibility by The Sloan Center on skills as well as those that will come along Aging & Work at Boston College, 38.3 percent with new innovations in the field. Based on this, of respondents with flexibility in the number of organizations should focus on tactics that can hours worked at their job chose to phase out assist senior employees in building their skills their retirement, and 30.5 percent chose to in new technologies while transferring years continue their same position working part of knowledge and experience to junior staff. time hours. An excellent way to transfer knowledge is While managers will be challenged to balance through apprenticeships, mentorships, or project demands against an increasing number cooperative learning programs between of non-traditional work schedules, the payoff students from a local school and employees will be high for organizations who take this who demonstrate aptitude. “There is still a three- to six-year window within which most utilities can solve their aging workforce issues using optimally efficient solutions. After that, solutions may become very expensive.” Randy Stedman, HR Magazine, 2010
  • 4. Effectively planning for the energy exodus Kate Herwick, director of corporate human resources for DTE Energy Corp, notes that one-on-one relationships are the key to knowledge transfer. Relationships between employees strengthen bonds and encourage a collaborative environment, whereby an ongoing transfer of knowledge is fostered. To accomplish this, energy and utility Succeeding in the future companies are now employing a number For organizations in the utility and energy of methods, including knowledge-transfer sectors, the need to prepare your workforce documents, technical reports, case studies while retaining talent and transferring technical of past projects, and knowledge mapping for knowledge is critical for success. critical jobs. These techniques ensure that as senior employees leave and junior staff replace These sectors will be at the front line of technol- them, a seamless transition will carry the ogy and innovation in the coming years, and the organization into the future. managers who prepare for these changes will see their efforts pay off exponentially. Estimated potential replacements needed by 2013 Top Tips for Capturing Knowledge in the Workplace Job Category Percent potential Estimated Estimated • Create Mentorship Programs – These attrition and retirements replacements programs are an excellent way to develop retirement needed junior staff skill sets while exposing senior Technicians 49.0% 20,500 27,000 staff to fresh thinking. • Encourage Networking – By encouraging Non-nuclear social connections, employees are much plant operators 47.6% 9,000 12,000 more likely to bounce ideas off their peers or share best practices. Engineers 44.7% 10,000 14,500 • Write It Down – Many organizations are Pipefitters and now choosing to write reports and case pipelayers 45.0% 6,500 8,500 studies that highlight past projects and solutions for employees. Line workers 40.2% 19,000 29,500 For more information on how Adecco Source: Center for Energy Workforce Development’s 2008 Survey of 56 U.S. utilities Engineering & Technical can help you plan as seen in HR Magazine, June 2010 your workforce, contact your local Adecco Engineering & Technical representative. adeccoengineering.com ©2011 Adecco