New Technologies

Experts from organisations with international reach have written on how the energy and utilities workforce, both today and into the future, can use technology to adapt and enhance their workforce.

Energy & Utility Skills Places Spotlight on Technology’s Capacity to Help Address Sector Workforce Matters

Maximising productivity, through technological innovation and human assets, was among the topics Energy & Utility Skills led a discussion on during the Power Skills Summit at the recent National Skills Academy for Power (NSAP) conference.

Energy & Utility Skills is now drawing reference to a series of discussion papers, articles and reports by leading industrial practitioners to demonstrate the capacity of innovative new technology to address sector workforce matters including upskilling, training and recruitment.

Below are some of the key articles that are exploring how the energy and utilities sector is adapting its workforce to meet future demands:

  • ‘The connected employee’ – by Deloitte
  • ‘Cognitive knowledge management – an answer to the UK’s employee retention and productivity issue?’ – by IBM
  • ‘Cognitive knowledge management’ – by IBM
  • Augmented Intelligence’ – by PA Consulting
  • Solving the UK’s Productivity Puzzle in the Digital Age’ – by The McKinsey Global Institute
  • ‘The Future of Jobs Report 2018’ – by the World Economic Forum

‘The connected employee’ by Deloitte

This paper, with an executive summary including a contribution by Nick Ellins, Chief Executive of Energy & Utility Skills, recognises that the sector needs to adapt to accommodate the approach of automation (which is estimated to affect 154,000 of the 500,000 workforce) and digital upskilling. The paper further notes that the sector must also redevelop its approach to recruitment.

‘The connected employee’ details the changing behaviours of candidates, who are becoming more discerning on roles they apply for and are remaining in them for much shorter tenures. The report calls for the sector to rethink talent acquisition, enable dynamic career development and transform the employee experience.

The sector requires a sustainable workforce that is capable of delivering its combined 43% (£104.8bn) share of the UK Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline.

As Nick Ellins writes: “The human asset will remain a business critical element, even when future gazing and predicted ‘digital disruption’ becomes reality.”


‘Cognitive knowledge management – an answer to the UK’s employee retention and productivity issue?’ – by IBM

Palash Banerjee, Associate Partner at IBM Analytics, co-writes in a blog how IBM has developed a customised tool that allows employees to find detailed answers to highly specific questions, even in remote conditions.

This technology replies to colleagues’ questions, having processed information from tens of thousands of documents, and has saved Woodside Petroleum millions of dollars as well as time spent by colleagues searching through data sources.

Banerjee, who was a guest speaker at the NSAP conference, writes how such cognitive computing systems could be an efficient and cost-effective asset to help the UK energy and utilities sector retain its older workers’ expertise and share it with younger generations. He also explores whether such systems can improve workforce productivity and enhance retention.


‘Cognitive knowledge management’ – by IBM

In this related paper, Banerjee details the benefits of cognitive management systems and concludes that such technology is vital for the energy and utilities sector as it faces economic, regulatory and environmental change alongside the pressure to be sustainable.

The paper has been reproduced here.


‘Augmented Intelligence’ – by PA Consulting

Ross Smith, Utility Digital Expert at PA Consulting, writes in this article that technological developments like artificial intelligence should not be seen as pitting “a robot versus a human,” but as a complementary tool that “revolves around technology helping people to complete their work more efficiently.”

In the article, first published by Utility Dive, Smith suggests that utility companies, rather than shifting their focus to “digitizing existing business processes,” should be looking to “include the integration of augmented intelligence into business processes, enabling them to truly innovate with technology.”


‘Solving the UK’s Productivity Puzzle in the Digital Age’ – by The McKinsey Global Institute

The McKinsey Global Institute, in its ‘Solving the UK’s Productivity Puzzle in the Digital Age’ discussion paper, explores the factors behind the sharp decline in productivity growth in the UK and suggests a framework to reverse the trend.

The paper notes that whilst the UK trails Germany in productivity and use of robots by 20% and 23% respectively, its greater investment in its people gives the UK economy greater agility to change its economic approach, and re-skill or restructure, if the EU-wide economic uncertainty continues.

UK companies’ greater investment in labour over automation echoes the strategic importance of the UK’s energy and utilities workforce and therefore the need to fuse attending to personnel matters as well as technological ones.


‘The Future of Jobs Report 2018’ – by the World Economic Forum

The report, a new edition of the World Economic Forum’s initial findings on new labour markets in 2016, focuses on how new technologies might “create new high-quality jobs and vastly improve the job quality and productivity of the existing work of human employees.”

Factors such as new technologies and geographical changes to production and distribution can either displace existing roles or enable reskilling and job creation. Businesses must “harness the transformative potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution” and address skills gaps and emerging trends with an “augmentation strategy” enabling the automation of some duties to “complement and enhance” their workforce’s “distinctly human talents.”

The paper suggests that businesses, policy-makers and educators all play a role in ensuring workers are equipped to become “agile learners” with the option to re-train and develop long-term skills to “thrive in the workplace of the future”.


Find Out More

For further information on new technologies in the energy and utilities sector and how you can use them to enhance your workforce, please contact our Workforce Planning team at workforceplanning@euskills.co.uk.

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