workers live where they work, the energy industry needs to think more about
accommodations for transient workforce.
In sparsely populated North Dakota, the recent Marcellus shale boom
has led to a massive influx of workers from all over
the country. Without enough housing
available for these
new, if only temporary residents, many
the industry worked
to build modular
homes quickly. Similar strategies should
be considered for
other rural locations.
The question of who
will bear the cost is
central to these arrangements.
The combination of the skilled labor
shortage, perceptions of the industry,
salaries, and plant geography all play
into the challenges of quickly recruiting and retaining the next generation
of workers. Although these issues are
complex, there are things that plants
can do to vet and secure the next generation of energy workers.
First, plants in the energy industry
must understand industry trends, and
be cognizant of factors such as salary
figures and local competition.
Second, plants must be able to raise
awareness about the ample opportunities available for the next generation of
energy workers, and develop programs
and strategies to help provide a direct
pipeline for potential talent to enter
Finally, owners must engage industry groups, contract partners and educational partners to develop viable
the best talent utilities will have to pay
workers a reasonable amount.
Plant location plays a significant
role in the availability of labor and the
competition for it. A plant in a remote
rural location does
not have the same
access to a large pool
of local workers as a
plant that is closer to
other major plants.
Similarly, with a
majority of nuclear
power plants located
in the eastern half
of the United States,
it stands to reason
that the availability
of qualified nuclear
plant workers will be
higher on the east coast than on the
Even if plants and utilities can’t
change their locations, they can take
a number of steps to mitigate labor is-
sues related to geography.
A national talent pipeline is required
This can be relatively challenging for
an individual utility or plant, which is
why labor partners are such a valuable
asset in this area.
Utilities should look for partners
that have an existing national network
of talent and the ability to find and develop new talent as well.
Particularly in the maintenance
area, contractors are at an advantage in
scheduling labor efficiently based on
their ability to offer long-term continu-
Those who can leverage existing
maintenance schedules to allow work-
ers to go from plant-to-plant will at-
tract skilled loyal workers while help-
ing plants stay on schedule and budget.
Understanding that fewer and fewer
comprise 19 percent of the oil and gas
industry workforce despite making up
50 percent of the overall workforce.
SALARY AND WAGES
Utilities and their partners must
develop programs that encourage
women to enter the energy workforce.
A useful example is what the
manufacturing industry has done
with its STEP Ahead initiative, which
is designed to honor and promote the
role of women in the field. Similar
initiatives and engagement could
unlock the potential of an untapped
resource for energy companies.
Perceptions and attitudes are slow to
change. The energy industry must com-
mit to promote the opportunities avail-
able and the benefits that one can real-
ize when considering this career track.
Energy plant maintenance cycles
require a contingent workforce. The
basics of supply and demand mean
that skilled workers can select those
opportunities with the best combina-
tion of salary, benefits, and long-term
This is particularly challenging for
both owners and service providers in
regions with large concurrent con-
Energy providers must take an ag-
gressive approach to salaries and wages
or risk missing out on the best avail-
In most cases labor will go wherev-
er they can make the most money, not
necessarily to the closest plant. Out-
side labor partners can be particularly
helpful in giving perspective on sala-
ries because they have national view of
In the case of union work, this na-
tional view can be helpful in negotiat-
ing reasonable rates and working con-
Salaries may fluctuate over time
based on labor availability, but to get
commit to promote
available and the
benefts that one
can realize when