1660342918937 Gary

Opportunities within the dwindling utilities workforce

June 20, 2022

Librestream's Gary McAuliffe

Our recently released research paper, Powering the Utility Workforce of the Future, outlines the impact and challenges of the modernized grid on workforce transformation and delves into key benefits from digital solutions transforming the utility workforce. Take a look…

Modernizing the grid

Today, 95% of utility leaders already consider digital transformation a strategic priority, and 81% expect augmented reality (AR) importance to grow exponentially for the mobile workforce over the next three to five years. With this in mind, the adoption of key technologies must happen now so organizations can do more with fewer resources and uncover new benefits today.

Training, onboarding and reskilling

With utilities executives estimating that nearly 41% of the workforce requires reskilling or upskilling in the very near future and the average time needed to reskill an employee is 7.5 months and costs organizations US $4,650 per worker, new digital solutions are poised to minimize this impact. Technologies like virtual and augmented reality can help drive operational efficiencies, workforce resiliency, and enhance onboarding, training and upskilling.

Using remote-collaboration solutions, such as AR-enabled remote tools, organizations can capture information in the form of live video calls, recordings, images, digital work instructions, or by tagging relevant data and analyzing unstructured data through artificial intelligence and machine learning. This new approach will be a critical aspect as utilities navigate new ways of onboarding and training their most important asset: their people.

Immediate access to remote expertise

Another benefit of AR-enabled remote-collaboration technologies is the ability to get assistance from the right person at the right time, no matter where the experts are based.

While the pandemic exponentially accelerated the adoption of digital transformation solutions for 45% of utilities, it also illustrated that it may not be possible to bring the right employee to the field at all times. By allowing workers access to the right information and guidance at the time it’s needed, organizations report significant business outcomes, including 70% productivity gains, 50% cost savings, and 3x efficiency gains.

Reduced O&M costs

Utilities in the US pend $14.6 billion on operations and maintenance (O&M) costs per year. AR and VR enable companies to connect experts to field workers, providing access to accurate information from expert sources in real-time without the need for them to go on location. This can improve and boost productivity while having a major impact on the business operations and saving billions in costs. By reducing the number of trips to the field, limiting secondary dispatch, and improving first-time fix rates, companies who leverage AR and VR solutions can expect to see noticeable and significant reductions in O&M expenditure.

Using “see what I see” technology, workers and control centers can effectively diagnose the issue and promptly complete necessary repairs and inspections, ultimately leading to utility organizations being able to invest in grid modernization.

The value of a modernized grid on workforce transformation

In time, these solutions will also affect utility customers’ bottom lines and upfront costs. Modernizing the grid will bring substantial savings and has the potential to improve the overall experience for customers around the globe.

Reconfiguring the electrical grid to renewable energy will create jobs and AR technology’s ability to connect people to resources to install, diagnose, maintain and repair assets could save thousands of hours and billions of dollars in training, travel and time.

Gary McAuliffe is Librestream's vice president—global energy & utilities sector