Managing with Less: Utility Workers [INFOGRAPHIC] | DCR Workforce Blog

Managing with Less: Utility Workers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Talent management for the utilities industry is facing a twin assault from a fast retiring workforce and fewer aspirants who wish to join it. You may say that this is a universal issue not confined to utilities alone; but the utilities industry is particularly vulnerable. .

Demand for electricity, natural gas, water and sewer continues to grow.   Seventy percent of transmission systems are more than 25 year old, and need to be updated.  This may seem to create new employment opportunities, but not so fast!  Other factors come into play. Infrastructure upgrades are accompanied by increased costs in raw materials, construction and labor. In these regulated sectors, increased costs cannot always be offset by price increases, resulting in increased pressure to restrict permanent hiring.

‘Smart Grid’ electricity initiatives and similar technology-driven programs in support of other utilities require highly technical skills.  Utilities must compete with other industries vying for recent graduates with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees.  Unfortunately, STEM candidates often choose careers in industries that are less labor-intensive or higher-paying.

Competence in this industry requires the right degree and years of extensive on-the-job experience.  The average age of U.S. utility workers is 50, with an estimated 40% leaving the workforce by the end of 2015.  Of even greater concern is the fact that 60% of the supervisors are over 50 years of age!  Who will be available to provide the needed mentoring and oversight?

Some advice:

  • Start now.  Anything you do will take years to result in a highly skilled utilities worker.
  • Generate new utilities workers.  Establish or join collaborative efforts with local universities and vocational schools to offer specialized training and degrees.  Offer internships and work study programs.  Seek the assistance of companies that create talent communities in which students can register for internship opportunities and companies have access to potential workers.
  • Tap into your retirees.  Create an alumni management program that allows you to bring retirees and former workers back as contract workers.  Offer positions that enable them to mentor younger workers, create repositories of knowledge, document best practices, create replicable templates and train the other workers not only in the work processes but also the culture that the organization has built over the years.
  • Use the power of social media.  Connect with potential candidates using social media.    Use social sites to build your employer brand and improve the image of the industry. Identify additional candidate sources – individuals with work experience that is applicable to the utilities industry.  Consider the huge numbers of veterans looking for civilian work to see if the technical training some of the veterans have already undergone during their service period can form the basis for an apprenticeship.

Check out the infographic to learn more.

Utilities Industry - Infographic

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.