Workforce Planning & Optimization
According to the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD), an aging work force plays a significant role in the industry’s transformation. The CEWD’s 2015 “Gaps in the Energy Workforce Pipeline” survey shows that overall, the electric and natural gas utility work force is getting younger and that retirement forecasts in future years are trending downward for the first time since the survey began in 2006. A large number of workers in our industry will retire in the next five to 10 years; at the same time, the industry is making progress filling the gap with younger employees.
A skilled work force is critical to AEP’s success. Many of our skilled and technical employees, such as plant operators and line mechanics, are approaching retirement eligibility. AEP defines retirement eligibility as a minimum age of 55 years with 10 years of service. To prepare and develop the work force of the future, we are actively engaged in several initiatives to attract people with the technical skills we will need. This can be challenging as we find ourselves competing with other industries, such as the shale gas and technology-driven industries, for the same skilled workforce. The skillsets we will need are also changing. As we develop our data analytics team, for example, we will need different technical skills to be successful. This field is very competitive and we will be competing with companies such as Google and Amazon for the best talent.
One way we are addressing this potential labor shortfall is by developing work plans for each of our business units to identify potential staffing gaps, as well as opportunities to educate, train and prepare our future workforce. Work force planning enables us to grow the business while giving our employees opportunities to develop their knowledge and their skills.
Through AEP’s Big Data Olympics, we are working to develop a work force optimization model. The purpose of the model is to help us improve our ability to forecast future workloads and optimally assign the work to employee and contract crews from a cost efficiency and customer satisfaction perspective.