Ed’s note: Utility skills and employee disengagement


A report released today has highlighted a serious concern for utility companies globally. According to the authors, “95% of utility executives, managers and engineers polled felt that new worker industry experience gaps are a major concern for their organisation.”

The skills gap within the global utility sector has been well documented, along with the need to aggressively address the skills gap, drive knowledge transfer and retain talent. This, however, needs to be balanced by providing new staff with business intelligence and much needed corporate knowledge; and encouraged seasoned staff to adopt and utilise new technology.

“Less experienced workers don’t recognize the risks that arise from their lack of institutional knowledge but will embrace technology that codifies this knowledge to support them in their jobs. The more seasoned workers must proactively embrace the value of technology for enabling this knowledge transfer,” said Hugo van Nispen, CEO, BRIDGE Energy Group and authors of the report An Industry in Transformation – The People

As the number of baby boomers retiring continues to accelerate (it’s said that 10,000 boomers are retiring daily), there isn’t just a need to recruit new skills, but also to fill existing jobs for which there aren’t enough staff.  Current estimates put the number of jobs which will remain unfilled in the utility sector at around 221,000 in the UK over the next decade.

Yet there is perhaps another issue which is not often commented on but is, perhaps more of a concern – a lack of engagement from staff.  A report by TTI Global Research published in December revealed that utility employees are some of the UK’s most disengaged. Driven by increased pressure on staff to perform in the lights of depleting workforces, utility staff are apparently also unclear of exactly what is expected of them. Over a third of those surveyed said that ‘understanding what they are required to do to fulfil their job role’ was a top engagement factor.

Other factors included working closely with a team and being empowered to make a decision.

Interestingly enough, a request for additional pay ranked in the middle of the responses, below a clear understanding of expectations, lack of training and a perceived lack of support from management.

Do you agree with these results? Do you feel disengaged from your organisation due to a lack of clarity or overlap about your role? Do you believe you are receiving sufficient support and training to equip you for the changing scope of your role? Share your insights with us – we will be covering this important topic in our next edition.

Our next edition:

Being the official publication for China Utility Week and African Utility Week, we will provide insights into these two vastly different markets, examining the development of smart grid in China vs Africa and highlighting opportunities within both markets, as well as opportunities for Chinese companies within Africa.

Additionally, we have two special focuses in this edition – one being components (smart meter, smart grid and grid edge components specifically) and smart cities. Join us as we explore our changing city landscape and how utility services are and must be central to that development.

If you would like to participate in this edition, please contact Errol Bryce for more information around our competitive and multi-faceted commercial opportunities (digital, video and print) or myself for utility-based, non-commercial editorial.