Joining Hands Across Energy And Utilities Sectors To Deliver Diversity Of Talent
True commitment to raising the visibility of under-represented groups in society in the UK workplace was always going to require collaboration. The Energy And Utilities Skills Partnership, owned and led by sector employers committed to investment in infrastructure and core utility services for better productivity, appears to be demonstrating how to do it. After a successful pilot year, its Talent Source Network (TSN) is already proving effective in attracting new and diverse talent to companies and their supply chains.
Amey plc, Cadent - previously the National Grid gas distribution arm-, SGN, Thames Water and Welsh Water have now joined this senior group of energy and utilities companies to deliver the sector’s digital attraction platform.
Having set key priorities, 29 major employers agreed an approach and used their collective reach to engage with talent. From Balfour Beatty to National Grid, Siemens, Yorkshire Water and more, the businesses were represented on a council by their top management, most often the CEO, demonstrating real commitment. Launched in February 2017, its aim is to engage women, those from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds (BAME), military leavers and skilled workers at risk of redundancy.
In making that its aim, in one fell swoop it could begin to address multiple challenges facing Britain in 2018, and post Brexit.
Early indicators show success in attracting more women to TSN's website to learn about the sector. Over 55% of the 31,000 visits to the website were from female users during the first two months of 2018.
"The potential to challenge UK stereotypes and address gender imbalances is clear", says a statement.
The initiative has already driven over 3,500 applications into the sector since January 2017. using innovative (ie different) approaches to marketing directly to the network’s target audiences. TSN’s employers have also reacted swiftly to offer support to those at risk of redundancy at Carillion plc, last covered in this blog in a post that has proved popular.
In partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions, the employers were quickly able to share 850 vacancies with affected personnel. The rapid response and efficiency demonstrated was a key success factor and enabled employers to recognise the power of collaboration and the ease of mobilising effort when required.
Energy and Utility Skills, the driving force behind the partnership, is keenly aware that the ability to engage with new and younger audiences is key to the sector’s ability to deliver its commitments to the National Infrastructure & Construction Pipeline (2017/18- 2020/21).
The sector’s 500,000 UK workforce is ageing and the Skills Strategy reports that close to 20% of it will retire within the next decade, which contributes to a total of 221,000 roles that will need to be filled by 2027.
Currently 35% of its vacancies are hard to fill due to skills shortages - the highest percentage of any UK sector, with the national average at 23%. Energy and utilities account for the greatest proportion of the UK Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline (2017/18 - 2020/21), with a combined share of 43% (£104.8bn).
This is significantly greater than the next largest category – transport at £78.5bn, responsible for 29% of the 2017/18 – 2020/21 Pipeline.
In addition, the sector requires more advanced digital and engineering skills as the UK moves towards a smart energy system. Engaging younger generations has been seen as an obvious and necessary step in the right direction. Measuring job creation is also in focus as a critical component of any rethinking of UK corporate governance - as covered here on Board Talk.
Kate Davies, Chief Operating Officer at Energy & Utility Skills, said: "The addition of five new employers to TSN demonstrates our sector’s commitment to working together to tackle talent issues. The Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy demonstrates that the UK’s energy and utilities sector offers a huge range of exciting and challenging careers and it is critical that this is visible to a diverse range of emerging talent."
The strategy was released in February 2017 and was co-written by the Skills Partnership. It is described as "the first-ever coherent strategic plan for the continued delivery of essential energy and utility services to 65 million people across Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland every day."
With the pilot programme complete, the Skills Partnership is actively encouraging other leading sector employers to join TSN. It says it has already welcomed several expressions of interest.
As for potential recruits - you know what to do. Help spread the word, and send them to the TSN site.