Electrical utility companies face a growing problem: their existing workforce is rapidly aging out. Power Engineering magazine reports forty percent of US electrical and natural gas utility workers will be eligible for retirement by 2020, with twenty percent eligible to retire right now.
As the industry’s current generation of workers retires, demand for new employees is going to skyrocket. With those new hires comes the need for training, which in and of itself presents challenges. The incoming generation of millennial workers approach education and training very differently than their baby boomer counterparts, and it’s these differences that will drive electrical training trends in 2017 and the future.
Videos and Visual Learners
While boomers’ learning was primarily text-based, younger workers are used to absorbing information through audiovisual means. They grew up accessing instructional videos on YouTube, and expect immediate access to on-demand information.
Video learning is perfect for such workers, and it increasingly supplants technical manuals. Short online instructional videos make it possible to train workers in remote locations, providing a visual demonstration rather than a written explanation. Students can access the video as often as they want, whether during initial learning or whenever they need their skills refreshed.
Active learning continues to increase in importance, and is one of the driving electrical training trends of 2017. Hands-on activities increase student retention better than lectures or written materials, and help students reach the level of skills proficiency required by OSHA.
Active learning, of course, requires an instructor to oversee activities and ensure the student masters the task. Traditionally, more experienced employees were used as mentors, but this method comes with two problems. First, experienced workers must be pulled out of their regular duties to provide training, and second, the looming retirement event will make experienced electrical utility workers scarce.
Video conferencing offers a solution, allowing instructors to teach skills to workers in multiple locations simultaneously. Again, most new employees grew up with online interactions—they’re much more comfortable with virtual communication than their older peers.
Video conferencing offers another advantage: greater access to industry experts. Students can learn from and interact with the best minds in their field.
Management Learning Systems
Online management learning systems have grown out of the need to assess student progress and the increasingly virtual nature of electrical training. An MLS delivers content and tests while allowing instructors to track student progress. Instructors can track participation, how long students spend on individual assignments, and assess student progress. Students benefit from tailored feedback—an important motivation when learning new skills.
Live Online Training
The electrical training trends of 2017 function best when combined into a cohesive training program. Live online training makes use of all these features while offering opportunities for student-instructor discussions, group work, and more, all delivered online. If your new hires have access to the internet, they can receive the training necessary to fulfill their job responsibilities.