Leveraging technology can help utilities face the challenge of having enough trained and qualified workers to meet demand.
Like nearly all industries that require skilled workers, the electrical utility industry currently faces the challenge of having enough trained and qualified workers to meet demand and changing market conditions.
According to a 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (see here), all energy sectors reported hiring difficulties: “Lack of experience, training or technical skills were again cited as the top reasons for hiring difficulty by employers across all give surveyed sectors. The need for technical training and certification was also frequently cited, implying the need for expanded investments in workforce training and closer coordination between employers and the workforce training system.”
One solution is to improve efficiencies in training processes and implement training systems that are attractive to women and racially diverse people, two of the groups the report recommends increasing recruitment of. Efforts of organizations like the Electrical Training Alliance (ETA) are demonstrating how successful new training technologies and methods can be used in battling the workforce problem. The ETA is a joint initiative between the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Its educators provide workplace safety materials, curriculum, and training to more than 55,000 electrical apprentices and 700,000 journeymen.
EMBRACING TRAINING TECHNOLOGY
Training based on technology is shown to measurable increase interest, effectiveness, and retention. CM Labs worked with the ETA to incorporate simulation-based equipment operator training into their program. Such methods eliminate or greatly accelerate the time between learning a skill and applying it in the workplace. Simulation-based training is a staple in many industries, including construction, forestry, and material handling. Today it is gaining momentum for utility applications. Like many education-based organizations, trade unions and vocational schools, the ETA’s blended learning approach has seen a recent shift from paper and lectures to technology, with a growing emphasis on simulation.