Along with many in the industry, I went along to Utility Week Live in Birmingham yesterday, to catch up with customers and candidates. I also made time to attend some of the seminars held in the theatres on the show floor and a real highlight for me was the workforce renewal and skills strategy seminar hosted by Utility Week Editor Ellen Bennett, It was great to hear they are working on so many of the skills shortage issues that we at Utility People have identified in our annual skills shortage survey. I’ve highlighted below some of the key take-aways from that session.
The Utility Industry needs to build a better brand
We need to build a better brand in order to attract new talent into the industry. The Industry is seen as a male orientated and indeed, with 73% of the workforce being male, is there any wonder? We need to attract women as part of a diverse workforce. The current brand is not selling that image and it needs to.
Skills are continually getting diluted across the sector
Engineering companies are taking the skills from our Industry, which again comes back to brand. Companies like Jaguar are offering better, ‘sexier’ packages and companies abroad are tapping into the UK workforce, creating a brain drain and diluting the skills available to UK utilities. The results of this mean that we are just passing the same skilled people around and inflating salaries to secure the talent needed.
Attracting young Talent
Companies across the whole Utilities sector need to spend time and money engaging with young people at schools and colleges. Creating an interest from an early age means that by the time they reach their GCSEs students will want to choose subjects that will help them develop a career in the Industry. We need to encourage more young people realise the industry is a great place to work and build careers.
Following the seminar, I caught up with Nick Ellins, Chief Executive at EU Skills, and having had a few conversations with Nick and his team it was great to meet him in person. We had a great discussion around the skills shortage and look forward to potentially working together to help develop solutions that can really tackle this issue head on.