To address the industry-wide shortage of new technical talent, National Field Services, through our National Training Center, is launching an aggressive, ambitious training program that will benefit the entire industry.
The Demographic Squeeze
Over 20 years ago, as the first of the Baby Boomer retirements approached, warnings were sounded that we would face a significant skills gap in the future. We are now seeing these predictions come to pass, in the electrical testing industry and throughout American industry in general. According to an article by Dave Bernard in U.S. News & World Report, there are now 75 million Baby Boomers on the verge of retirement, and for the next 20 years approximately 10,000 people per day will reach the retirement age of 65. These skilled workers are not being replaced. Based on current growth estimates, there will be approximately 6,500 new employees ready to enter the workforce each day. Of these, only 2,600 will have college degrees.
By the end of 2015, it is estimated that 33 percent of our workforce, including 48 percent of our supervisors, will be eligible to retire. Paul Solman on PBS News Hour noted that “in July of 2015 the population grew by about 200,000 people, and new jobs absorbed just about all of them.” At the same time, the unemployment rate dropped from 7.6 to 7.4 percent. The speculated cause: 40,000 Baby Boomers leaving the workforce.
The Demand for New Talent
College programs are not producing enough graduates with strong, highly technical skill sets in the electrical power discipline to satisfy the demand for new workers. Some of the power technology degrees available come closer than others to preparing graduates, but on the whole these programs are still falling short. One key issue those who make it into the workforce are facing is the shortage of the close mentorship that new technicians need from highly skilled, experienced experts, often because so many of these experts are Baby Boomers leaving the workforce.
The demand for skilled young technicians is so great that companies in our industry must compete fiercely to attract them and tend to hire them away from each other. Another challenge: once some new hires break into the electrical power testing field and realize how broad and demanding it is, they may walk away to do less technical work.
The National Response
National Field Services, through the National Training Center, has decided to make a commitment not only to our future but the future of our industry. This commitment will more than likely benefit our competitors as well as National Field Services.
We are currently developing and close to the initial delivery of a training program that will be the most aggressive in the industry. We have formed a pipeline recruiting team that will provide a continuous flow of young talent into the workforce.
The National Apprenticeship Program
This new initiative, the National Power Testing Apprenticeship Program, will be conducted in two phases. Once recruits are hired and in-processed, they enter directly into an exhaustive training regimen that spans three weeks. The curriculum consists of both classroom and lab work to take their education to the next level by specifically targeting the electrical power testing field. This program will teach and verify the tasks required to bring them to the knowledge and capabilities of a Level II Power Testing Technician. They will then enter our permanent workforce as a trainee for one year.
Once trainees are certified as a Level II technician and before they have four years of experience, they will be placed in the second phase of the training program. This phase is more extensive than the first, to continue the preparation for their certification as a Senior Engineering Technician in the Electrical Power Testing profession.
Uplifting the Industry
Naturally, National Field Services will look to retain the most talented of our trainees. But due to the demand for skilled young technicians, we expect many of the people who benefit from our training will eventually work for other companies in the testing arena. We believe, therefore, our rigorous training will have positive repercussions throughout our industry.
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