The waterpower industry is currently facing a significant challenge – a workforce shortage.
The Great Resignation, the term coined to describe the wave of retirements and employee transition during the COVID-19 pandemic, when combined with an above-average age demographic for the waterpower workforce, shows no sign of abating. A record number of people have left their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, with one in five workers planning to quit their jobs in 2022.
Within the waterpower industry, both asset owners and service and product suppliers are looking to identify strategies to help ease employment struggles.
With awareness of these issues top of mind, the National Hydropower Association is placing a spotlight on these topics at its upcoming Clean Currents Conference + Tradeshow.
In particular, the following will be featured:
With a special “Hiring for Hydro” program taking place on Wednesday, as well as the following sessions, Clean Currents has ample content addressing the important issue of workforce challenges, such as the following:
- Advancing the Discussion of Hydro Workforce Development – Identifying Industry Priorities
- Workforce Challenges – Finding Solutions
- Workplace Strategies to Retain and Motivate Staff
THE DEEP DIVE: UNDERSTANDING MODERN WORKFORCE CHALLENGES
Key findings from PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) “Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey” of more than 52,000 workers in 44 countries and territories highlight the urgency of the workforce issue prevailing across all industries.
The top reasons workers gave when leaving a position were financial compensation, job fulfillment, and flexibility.
Part of the conversation about workforce challenges concerns work-life balance, as employees are demanding a more humanistic approach to dividing up the work week. By asking the right questions, companies will learn to better address the questions of the day, as the answers may determine whether or not a potential employee accepts a critical role. Understanding and internalizing how companies communicate their direction post-covid is of the utmost importance, and by developing a meaningful communications response, companies both large and small can ensure successful employee recruitment and retention.
According to the “Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey,” companies “must tailor their workforce strategy to the unique needs of their workers” to overcome hurdles in workforce development. Recruiting top talent and highly committed workers will require increased pay transparency, consistent opportunities for growth, and the option(s) to work in a hybrid or remote model, as well as an understanding of the importance of work-life balance.
It is no longer simply about hiring workers, it is about finding the right people and retaining said talent.
The hydropower industry is facing particularly difficult workforce challenges on a number of fronts; namely, the aging workforce, demand for physical presence on job sites, retention, and limited worker pools are all adding complication to an industry already stressed by supply-chain woes.
In the waterpower industry, 26% of employees are 55 and older, thereby reaching retirement age by 2030. In addition, the hydropower industry has seen horizontal migration, wherein employees don’t leave the industry but move from one company or organization to another. This leads to an insular candidate pool, encouraging companies to identify pre-existing employee assets at other organizations instead of investing in the next generation of workers.
CLEAN CURRENTS AS A PROBLEM SOLVER
To address workforce challenges, as well as many important topics, leaders in the waterpower industry are joining forces at Clean Currents 2022, National Hydropower Association’s conference + tradeshow, which runs October 18 – 20 in Sacramento, California.
First, on Tuesday morning, October 18, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Hydropower Foundation are co-hosting a forum on Tuesday, October 18, from 10:00 a.m. to noon to discuss how the industry can help address urgent hydropower workforce needs.
“This is a critical discussion to determine the next steps and identify partnerships for current and future workforce efforts,” says Linda Ciocci, executive director of the Hydropower Foundation.
This workshop intends to ascertain a framework for knowledge transfer and succession planning to prepare the hydropower community for a new wave of workers.
Then, on Tuesday afternoon, October 18, the “Workplace Strategies to Retain and Motivate Staff” take place, which utilizes storytelling and case studies to help attendees improve and enhance their workplaces by collaborating to build teams and better understand communication styles. By focusing on employee purpose, supervisors connecting with their teams, and inter-team connection, participants will leave the workshop with tools they can put to work immediately.
On Wednesday, October 19, as part of Clean Currents’ NextGen initiative, the Hydropower Foundation will hold its Hiring for Hydro Unplugged program, bringing more than a dozen university students to Clean Currents. The session focuses on building up students, connecting them with hydropower resources, and it provides the opportunity to learn more about potential career opportunities while exploring all that Clean Currents has to offer.
Finally, on Thursday afternoon, October 20, Chris Mattson, Generation Manager for Tacoma Power, and Phil Cantarinha, Director of Power Systems for Yuba Water Agency, will facilitate an informal roundtable dialogue on the topic of “Workforce Challenges –Finding Solutions”. The hour-long session provides a forum for problem solving with peers, many of whom face similar challenges.
The three sessions described above are but three of the more than 80 sessions offered at Clean Currents which address industry challenges while connecting professionals. You can find and review all the content offerings here: https://cleancurrents.org/programs/schedule/