A series of articles, reviews, and strategies for the anticipated utility workforce shortage.
The statistics are now familiar among human-resources professionals: Almost 40 percent of utility workers will become eligible for retirement in the next five years. Assuming only nominal growth, by 2010 the industry will need to hire 10,000 new skilled workers each year.
Exacerbating this situation is a host of social and market factors that constrain the supply of skilled workers and make the workforce gap especially challenging for electric and gas utilities.
“I worry about the quality of the labor pool,” says Howard Winkler, director of human resources strategy for Southern Co. in Atlanta. “I’m not only concerned about the number of employees we’ll need to hire, but about their readiness to take on the kinds of technical jobs we need done.”
When U.S. utilities were growing and hiring thousands of baby boomers in the 1950s and ’60s, job seekers with technical skills only had limited alternatives in the workplace. Today, such skills can lead to an almost infinite range of career options, many of which hold greater appeal for young technicians than do utility positions. And people with specialized utility industry knowledge are already in short supply in the personnel market.