The twin threat posed to the utility sector by skills shortages and an ageing workforce is nothing new.
The 2013 ‘Powering the UK’report by professional services firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young), projected that around 27% of the technical workforce will retire by 2024. It also suggested that 80% of these roles will be at higher skills levels, further compounding the issue.
Four years on and the industry has launched the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, a body created to build and launch the first ever joint Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy for the sector.
Its goal is clear. It wants to attract 221,000 new recruits over the next 10 years. That’s roughly equivalent to a town the size of Oldham, in Greater Manchester, joining the industry in under a decade!
The Partnership stated at its launch:
“We face an aging workforce, increasing competition for talent with unemployment reaching its lowest recorded levels and a lack of proficient skills leading to over a third of vacancies being hard-to-fill”.
When you look at both EY and the Partnership’s projections, you see how crucial it is that utility companies explore new ways of attracting the next generation of talent, whilst also looking to retain experienced employees.
As specialists in workforce planning and management with extensive experience in utilities, we believe modernising shift patterns and rosters will play a key role in supporting both recruitment and retention.
Many companies are operating legacy patterns that no longer match the demands placed on the organisation by customers, regulators or employees.
Some are throwbacks to public ownership, where a lack of change or standardisation has led to unnecessary complexity and inefficiencies.
Others are simply not optimised or well managed, leading to an imbalance of supply and demand that creates a whole range of issues for the organisation and the workforce.
Repair and maintain
As identified by the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, the gap that needs to be bridged is wide. It requires the industry to align itself with the needs and demands of a younger and more diverse labour pool if it is to compete effectively for talent.
Shift patterns and rosters can be designed to be more flexible and appealing to millennials and Generation Z - the workforce of the future.
Working patterns that provide certainty, fairness and flexibility can prove a key differentiator in competitive labour markets and attract different demographics to an industry.
Optimised patterns also help eliminate reliance on long hours and goodwill, leading to a reduction in employee stress and an improved work-life balance.
This is crucial for talent retention, ensuring valuable, skilled employees do not become overworked or de-motivated.
In industries with ageing workforces, creating patterns that suit those individuals wanting to work reduced hours can ensure that highly valuable skills are not completely lost to retirement.
We use software to design and manage flexible, adaptable and responsive shift patterns that provide:
- More predictable working hours
- Options which are suited to different life-stages and lifestyles
- An equitable distribution of shift pattern types and arrangements to support
The creation and maintenance of modernised patterns is just one area of workforce planning and management which needs to be addressed if the utility industry is to bridge the skills gap.
However, it is one that can be tackled now, with the benefits being immediate and long lasting.
If you’d like to know more about how our software and expertise is being harnessed in various utility companies, explore this site or contact us now.
We also run regular Shift Planning Clinics which provide an opportunity for you to confidentially discuss your situation with our highly-experienced team.
Click here to arrange a free 1-2-1 consultation now.