Instrumentation & Controls, O&M, Plant Optimization

Kiewit: How to survive the seismic utility workforce shift

The electric utility workforce is a model of adaptability and efficiency…and longevity.

The average age of a power generation worker is more than 50 years old now. A sizable number of that group are 60 and older.

They still do a wonderous job, but they are leaving soon. As Paul Conry, vice president of power delivery for energy construction giant Kiewit, noted recently: The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that close to 25 percent of electric utility employees will retire over the next five years.

The U.S. Department of Labor went further, forecasting that close to half of the current utility workforce will retire within a decade. And with that goes decades of invaluable institutional memory.

In an article on his company’s website, Conry detailed the challenges this future presents both utilities and their project partners on the engineering side.

“Companies face a common dilemma when it comes to staffing,” Conry wrote. “On one hand, overstaffing to prepare to meet peak project demands is proactive, but isn’t economical or sustainable. On the other hand, understaffing inevitably taxes the current workforce and leads to burnout, fatigue and employee turnover.”

He highlights the potential shift toward engineer of choice (EOC) and engineering partner of choice (EPOC) programs. Contractors are a sign of the times, and companies must think about the best ways to approach the shift.

The digital transformation, artificial intelligence, robotics are not just science fiction anymore. They are both adaptive tools and challenges for the utility workforce. Finding the right, trained employees-either inside the company or outside-is a must.

Click here to read more of “Preparing for the Aging Utility Workforce,” at Kiewit.com.