Friday, July 8, 2016

Old School versus New School - The Change of Generations in the Power Industry

Recently there was a conference in Cologne (Germany) held on how to improve human resources developments in power utilities. It seems that many managers expect that they fall short of hiring the best engineers.
Why is the situation in the power industry so crucial? There are many reasons - according to my personal experience. One crucial fear is the change of generations: Old School versus New School.
It is a pity that maintaining and improving the largest and the most crucial machines ever (the interconnected power delivery systems) are not so attractive to young people. What would young people do if there would not enough power to send their messages and photos back and forth? What would hospitals do without electric power? Or ...

Many discussions in the public are centered around one issue: getting cheap and cheaper power. I have experienced this quite often when HR managers start discussing with me to offer cheaper training courses ... I guess many of them have to learn that the change of generations of engineers will become THE challenge in the power industry. Why: Because the complexity of the secondary power system solutions has reached a level that can't easily be managed by inexperienced and less-motivated engineers. These engineers have to be trained in power systems theory AND information systems theory.

We (older) engineers had a chance to learn new technologies step by step over a long period - sometimes 20 or more years. These days we see new approaches being popping-up over night - more or less. The pressure is coming, e.g., from Internet technologies, Industry 4.0, and Smart Phones. These new possibilities will have a big impact on the way how power is generated, transmitted, and (of course) how it is distributed and used.

How do we get prepared for the future power delivery system? Solid education is one of the key issues and expensive.

But many HR managers want to get the best for free. The best things in life may be free. But not the power delivery. The real cost of power delivery will likely only be understood after a longer huge black-out.

One objective of HR managers is to hire more young and motivated engineers - another should be to give the experienced and interested engineers more chances to receive the education they need for the years to come.

Ask for a permission to attend a training - good luck!

1 comment:

Rod Hughes said...

CIGRE produced Technical Brochure 599 in Nov 2014:
Education, Qualification and Continuing Professional Development of Engineers in Protection and Control

Staff of CIGRE Member organisations and individual Members can ALWAYS download the PDF for free under strict copyright distribution restrictions (so please don't ask me to send you a copy) - in any case they are generally around 100 - 150 Euro for anyone to buy as hard copy.
New Note: Non-CIGRE Members may now access and download FREE OF CHARGE all CIGRE publications (ELECTRA and Technical Brochures) that have been published more than 3 years ago.