Tackling the Skills Gap and Brain Drain with Training

Electricians Replace 20 Amp Breaker

Tackling the skills gap

Hiring managers in the energy sector have to deal with the fact that the national unemployment rate is 9.2 percent yet there are still positions that remain unfilled for months because of a lack of qualified candidates A recent Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) survey of more than 100 energy efficiency managers found that about 60 percent of respondents think there is a lack of talented workers in the field. “Energy efficiency is a rapidly growing segment of the overall energy industry and we believe there is a clear lack of talent that is necessary to fill the positions that are open,” says AESP’s president and CEO Meg Matt.

There is a need for more utility employees to have experience with accounting for public utilities, and the SNL Center for Financial Education has struggled to find an instructor to fill this need. However, better training practices can help address the electric utility industry’s staffing issues. In addition to the “skills gap,” as much as 40 percent of the energy sector’s 400,000 workers in a variety of job categories will be eligible to retire by 2013, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. “We have plenty of candidates that have the basic skills but because they do not meet every ‘bullet point’ managers hold out to find candidates that match all desired qualifications, often resulting in delayed hiring or losing qualified candidates while waiting for that ‘right person,'” says Key Technical Solutions’ recruiting manager Michael Ruane.

Fortunately, training programs take only a few weeks, and many younger workers get up to speed quickly, especially with technical materials, Ruane continues. In order to deal with the workforce shortage, several electric, natural gas and nuclear utilities and their associations formed The Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) to help utilities work together to develop solutions. CEWD recently announced its Troops to Energy Jobs program, which is aimed at facilitating military veterans’ transition into civilian jobs in the energy sector around the country. “The extensive military training, strong work ethic and leadership skills endemic to success in the military make veterans highly desirable employees for energy companies,” says Dominion Resources chairman, president and CEO Tom Farrell.

Electric utilities also should pursue internal training options, according to Duke Energy’s chairman, president and CEO Jim Rogers. Rogers recommends moving younger employees every 18 months to different divisions in a company in order to give them a better idea of how the company works as a whole.

EnergyBiz (07/11) Zajac, Jennifer

Web: www.embercarriers.com|Twitter: www.twitter.com/embercarriers|LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mhladio

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