As we transform into the energy company of the future, we will need a cross-disciplinary workforce that can understand, design and manage a modern power grid that is digital, flexible, more distributed and constantly under threat from cyber and physical attack. We need a skilled workforce that is adept in risk assessment and behavioral and data science, is focused on our customers, and has familiarity with cybersecurity.
We are challenging ourselves to attract, develop and retain the new talent we need; ensure our current workforce isn’t left behind; and adapt to the scale and pace of change that is occurring if we are to remain at the forefront of our industry’s transformation.
Today, developing skills and internal capacity for this evolving landscape is a high priority. At the same time, we will always need those with technical skills to operate and maintain the electric power grid. To ensure our future, we are focused on a combination of succession planning (at all levels of the organization) as well as capacity-building for new skills that are emerging as critical to our industry.
The changing demographic of our workforce is helping to drive the pace of change, though we will need to accelerate it to stay in step with technological advancements and meet the expectations of tomorrow’s workforce. The number of millennials (born in 1982 and after) in AEP’s workforce trended upward by 20.5 percent in 2016. Our employee turnover rate remains steadily low at 5.39 percent, which includes an employee retirement rate of 2.31 percent.
According to Accenture’s “Harnessing Revolution: Creating the Future Workforce” report, Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce in less than a decade. And Generation Z, those born in 1995 or later, is starting to enter the workforce. According to the report, Gen Z is “the most diverse generation in U.S. history” and is considered “the world’s first true Digital Natives.” Our planning will have to account for these generational shifts if we are to be competitive.
One way we are addressing this workforce transformation is by developing work plans for each of our business units. The plans identify potential future workforce needs and potential staffing gaps, as well as opportunities to educate, train, transfer knowledge and prepare our future workforce. Workforce planning enables us to meet the changing needs of our customers and business while giving our employees opportunities to develop their knowledge and their skills.