By Gil C. Quiniones
On June 16th, I’m joining Con Edison Chairman and CEO John McAvoy, NY Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman, President and CEO of NYSERDA, John Rhodes, NY Green Bank President Alfred Griffin and Ken Daly, President of National Grid to discuss New York’s energy policies and challenges and opportunities facing electric utilities at New York Energy Week. I’m sure there will a lot of talk about distributive generation, smart grids, regulations, and IT solutions. But as the head of the nation’s largest state-owned public power utility, with roughly 1,700 employees, I want to make sure that we have a meaningful dialogue about how our industry is going to address recruitment, employee engagement, and diversity.
Here’s an interesting fact: over 30% of utility employees are within five years of retirement. For decades, the energy industry benefited from a remarkably stable workforce. People entered the industry and stayed…and stayed. At the moment, one of the biggest challenges facing the industry is a wave of retirements, and then, attracting, motivating, and training their replacements. It’s time to re-think the way our industry has recruited and retained employees. We want the incoming generation of employees to be able to adapt as fast as technology demands.
So far, we’ve seen increased turnover, particularly among engineers and other employees with specialized skills that are in high demand in every industry. When roughly 36% of the U.S. workforce is comprised of millennials, who are no longer seeking or expecting employment at one organization for their entire careers, we are looking at a huge cultural shift in the energy industry. We need to prepare ourselves for continued attrition by developing tools that will capture some of this knowledge as future employees leave after only a few years instead of a few decades.
We might debate about the speed and magnitude of change, but change is coming. Every energy sector is looking for ways to innovate and better integrate technology into their existing operations. To be clear, we cannot build a 21st century energy industry without a highly-skilled, motivated, and diverse work force. That’s why we’re developing more accurate ways at NYPA to project our future skills requirements, broaden our succession planning, and offer more training opportunities.
So, as an industry, we need to start figuring out ways to reinvent and reimagine the cultural paradigms we currently operate under in the energy industry – while providing the best value and outcome for our customers.
On June 16th, NYPA President Gil Quinones will speak at the NY Energy Week Opening Ceremony: An Address from the State. EnerKnol created New York Energy Week based on the company’s founding mission to fuel industry investment through information access and collaboration across all sectors of the diverse, and often fragmented, energy industry. For more information, visit www.nyenergyweek.com and http://www.energysolutionsforum.com/enerknol/.
Gil C. Quiniones (@GQEnergy) is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Power Authority. Quiniones has served as Senior Vice President of Energy and Telecommunications for the New York City Economic Development Corporation during the Bloomberg Administration, and worked for Con Edison for 16 years.