Utility Week

UTILITY Week 7th July 2017

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UTILITY WEEK | 7TH - 13TH JULY 2017 | 25 Operations & Assets Market view A crucial factor missing from the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership's Work- force Renewal and Skills Strategy is working patterns. Their importance to suc- cessful recruitment and retention cannot be overstated. Shi patterns influence everything from productivity and efficiency to customer ser- vice and working time compliance. Crucially, they will also play a vital role in attracting the next generation of talent and extending the working lives of existing employees. Many companies maintain legacy approaches to resourcing that are unneces- sarily complex, inflexible and hard to man- age. When working patterns fail to keep pace with wider change the symptoms are instantly recognisable: high overtime; long- hours; stress; reliance on goodwill; increased absence; and compliance breaches. These are not traits you would associate with an "employer of choice". Attracting 221,000 new recruits over the next ten years will require the utilities industry to align itself with the demands of a younger and more diverse labour pool. This future workforce is likely to have a very dif- ferent attitude towards working time than the generations that preceded it. The hours you work affect all areas of your life and increasing emphasis is being placed on certainty, fairness and flexibility. Creating modern patterns of work that reflect these expectations will be essential if utili- ties are to succeed in a highly competitive labour market. Achieving balance Long hours and overtime cultures persist in many organisations that operate out- dated and inefficient working time arrange- ments. This may make careers in the utilities industry appear unattractive to millennials and certain demographics with different priorities. For example, high overtime earning does not help those struggling to get on the hous- ing ladder. Instead, they are looking for a decent and secure basic salary. Work-life balance and flexibility are also key considerations, particularly for those with family commitments. Research shows that these are no longer a nice to have. Instead, they are increasingly viewed as sec- ond only to salary in terms of importance to millennials. With many in the labour market seek- ing employers who actively support their well being and work-life balance, the utility industry needs to ensure its working patterns and rosters are attractive and competitive. Any modernisation programme should focus on creating flexible, adaptable, and responsive shi patterns that provide: • more predictable working hours (and therefore certainty on earnings); • options suited to different life stages and lifestyles; • an equitable distribution of working pat- tern types that are safe and compliant; • greater autonomy, with employees able to use mobile self-service systems to easily plan and manage their working time. Avoiding a cliff-edge Of course, recruitment is just one side of the challenge. Retention is also key to avoiding any serious shortfall when, as projected by the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, 20 per cent of the workforce retires over the next decade. Optimised patterns can eliminate reli- ance on long hours and goodwill, ensuring valuable, skilled employees do not become overworked or demotivated. Creating work- ing time arrangements that suit individuals wanting to work reduced hours enables the transfer of valuable skills during a phased transition into retirement. To become employer of choice in a highly competitive environment requires a con- certed industry-wide effort to deliver the pri- orities highlighted in the Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy. However, introducing optimised, flexible and appealing patterns of work is a relatively low-risk fix that can deliver immediate and lasting benefits. Ultimately, working time should adapt to remain in line with both employer and employees' needs. It is essential that the utilities industry focuses on continuous improvement in this area, ensuring working patterns remain optimised, attractive and fit for purpose long into the future. Kevin White, managing director, Working Time Solutions Employers of choice Tackling the looming skills gap requires the utility industry to take a holistic, long-term view of workforce planning and management, says Kevin White, and that means looking at working patterns. NUMBER OF PEOPLE UTILITY FIRMS WILL NEED TO FILL FORECAST VACANCIES BY 2025 Industry New jobs Replacement Net demand requirement Gas transmission and distribution* 10,000 53,00 22,000 Power 9,000 53,000 62,000 Waste management 2,000 61,000 63,000 Water 10,000 1,000 11,000 Smart meters 31.000 190,000 221,000 Total "Excludes oil and gas extraction Source: Energy & Utility Skills workforce planning data THE SKILLS GAP 20% of the workforce will retire within ten years, requiring 221,000 new recruits 85% of hard-to-fill vacancies are challenging because of skills issues OF A COHORT OF 11-YEAR-OLDS only 1-in 5 pupils will achieve GCSE physics only 1-in-20 will acheive A Level physics Just 1-in-50 will achieve an Engineering Degree Source Engineering UK

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