Thursday, 26 March 2015

Employment, Skills and Energy

I've just started blogging for the UK's Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) which I'm thrilled to do, particularly as one of my former roles was with a Training & Enterprise Council - one of the bodies involved in an earlier attempt at stimulating skills development, employment and productivity.

My first post for UKCES developed out of another former role as a chemical engineer and concerns employment and skills in the Energy sector: "Energy and Purpose - how skills keep our lights on."

The report suggests that the supply of talent isn't keeping up with demand, with the resulting gap being made worse by an ageing workforce; lack of young and female entrants; and the challenge of new skills.  But there is also the changing nature of the Energy workforce which is becoming increasingly mobile and more contract based meaning that it often receives less long-term investment than it needs.

We therefore need some innovative and ideally collaborative approaches.  I particularly liked the strategies included in the report of targeting areas of high unemployment and either relocating to these areas or providing packages for people to work away from home, and also of transferring skills from older to younger, entry level employees.

But I think we also need Energy firms to provide a compelling career for the people they need to recruit.  Doing this rests upon companies being really clear about what roles and skills are going to be most vital to their future and using this clarity to drive workforce and succession planning to develop a good understanding of potential gaps between supply and demand for talent.  This planning then needs to be followed by whatever actions are required to give people the skills and roles they need to take advantage of opportunities within the sector.  This might include, for example, offering opportunities to work abroad which fit an employees’ personal needs rather than finding that they leave to move overseas of their own accord, or requiring people to move abroad solely in response to business needs - which often results in these employees leaving a firm and potentially the sector.

I make a few other suggestions for improvement in the blog and there are plenty of recommendations in the report.  Take a look...

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