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The Need for Internal Talent Mobility in the Energy Industry

The lines are blurring between sectors in the energy industry, resulting in employee crossovers, from petrochemicals to oil and gas to renewables, for example. Because many energy projects can take five to 10 years to complete, finding people with the right skills is imperative — and challenging. 

Today’s energy companies compete with technology companies and other industries for the same digital skills and expertise, such as coding, data analytics and digital strategy. “It’s not just one utility competing against another utility, but industry against industry, and country against country, with a smaller size skilled labor pool,” Deloitte explained in its Positioning Utilities to Win the Battle for Talent report. 

According to an Energy & Employment Jobs Report, all energy sectors have seen a decline in workers, from 4.4% in electric transmission, distribution and storage to 23.9% in natural gas. Finding skilled workers to fill these roles isn’t easy or, in some cases, feasible. Yet, against this backdrop, energy companies can’t afford to lose good employees and top talent. 

Another approach is to hire from within. Internal hires don’t always need to be a perfect fit for a role (on paper, at least) to take advantages of opportunities for growth or skills development. Studies show that upskilling or reskilling an internal hire may take longer but can be done for a fraction of the cost of hiring an external candidate.

PwC agrees: “To drive innovation, utilities must not only attract and integrate new talent which brings fresh ideas, but also provide current employees with opportunities to learn new skills and ways of working.” 

Accessing internal talent

Available opportunities within a company aren’t always apparent to internal workers. According to the Deloitte Accessing talent article, 45% of employees are unaware of open roles within their company, and 56% admit it’s easier to find another job outside, rather than within, the company. 

Yet, SHRM found that employees promoted within three years of their date of hire are 70% more likely to stay with the company. Those who made lateral moves within the business are 62% more likely to stay compared to a 45% chance of staying for those not promoted or moved internally.

EURACTIV estimates up to 18 million European workers will need to be reskilled as the continent pursues net-zero emissions by 2050 as part of the EU Green Deal. “Some will need extensive training to perform entirely new jobs. Others will have small skills deficits, because some of their existing skills would also apply to new jobs,” the article explains.

France has already joined with EIT InnoEnergy to upskill and reskill approximately 800,000 workers in the battery sector. The joint agreement includes the creation of the EBA250 Academy to close the skills gap. “Reskilling the workforce will be essential in ensuring Europe meets its Green Deal targets by safeguarding sufficient battery capacity to be brought forward to support the electrification of transport and decarbonization of energy,” EIT InnoEnergy notes.  

As this partnership indicates, the key to success in the evolving energy industry is adaptability — not just for the various sectors, but also for employees. 

Mapping existing and needed skills

One way to help employees be more adaptable, and to retain talent, is by leveraging all — not just a portion — of the talent data you have available. The Deloitte article acknowledged, “Using data to find, source and select candidates more efficiently and taking a data-driven, expedited approach to hiring is one of the recruiting function’s biggest opportunities.” 

Collecting internal and external candidate data in a talent data platform is a good place to start, as it provides a central location for all talent-related data to live and integrate. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI) technology that can sift through data at speed, a talent data platform can help talent teams quickly and easily identify internal skills information. By mapping that to needed skills from open roles, it can help teams highlight where possibilities exist for internal upskilling or hiring.

This AI-driven skills mapping, in addition to identifying good internal candidates for current roles, can smooth the internal mobility process and help talent teams tailor career development plans. This can, in turn, help internal candidates develop the necessary skills for a new role while also helping them meet professional goals and advance their careers. 

By automatically finding connections between internal employees and open roles, AI helps talent teams expand their talent pipeline — and retain top talent. 

“One immediate impact of the evolution toward skills-based talent management is the ability to look at talent as individuals with a living, evolving set of skills with dynamic levels of proficiency, as opposed to static collections of requirements that fit an existing open role,” we noted elsewhere. 

This equates to significant time and cost savings, freeing energy talent management teams to focus on the priorities that make a difference. Deloitte summed it best in its Accessing talent article, “The war for talent is raging more fiercely than ever. To win requires more than execution; it demands reinvention — not just of the talent acquisition process, but of the talent acquisition mindset.”

Learn how Beamery can help energy and resources companies improve internal talent mobility.