Engineering businesses are pouring resources into predicting what the future market will look like. While scenarios vary considerably, one trend is certain: consumer choice will change the way companies deliver service. In fact, the transformation has already begun. With new technologies and systems interacting in advanced ways, now is the time to ensure you’ve got the right workforce to survive and thrive.
A convergence of trends are revolutionising the engineering industry. Regulatory reform, ‘big data’ and new technologies are turning the traditional top-down business model on its head. At the centre of the upheaval is the consumer; the tech-savvy customer who is more informed about their products and services than ever before.
In the past, consumers took a back seat to regulatory requirements and rate cases. With easy access to useful data, however, consumers are now in the driver’s seat. Mums and dads are making informed decisions about the products they use and, importantly, they’re directly influencing how their services operate. One only has to think about the potential effect of smart meters on energy demand management to understand the power of choice and control.
Given the long lead times and highly skilled nature of the engineering workforce, Labour Solutions Australia expert Daniel Fitzpatrick says industry leaders must understand the skills needed to capitalise on customer-centric strategy. What’s more, they need to act now.
“Electrical skills clusters, such as distribution technicians and electricians will be particularly impacted by the shift towards ‘smart’, consumer-driven services,” Daniel says.
“Traditional engineering roles will also start to incorporate information and communications technology (ICT) and data analyst skills, with a view to relay data to consumers in a meaningful way.”
In a nutshell, all levels of the engineering supply chain – from trade assistants through to managers – will become great communicators who thrive on cross-industry collaboration.
“An electrician won’t only understand the poles and wires part of the job, but they will also act as the frontline brand ambassador for the utility. They will be trained in customer service. This will be a sparkie who fixes your power and then goes on to show you how to access smart meter data on your laptop,” Daniel Fitzpatrick says.
“Key decision makers in the engineering industry need to take a good look at their own workforce, and have an industry-wide discussion into what workforce requirements will be like in three, five and 10 years time.”
If industry doesn’t quickly address these new workforce capabilities, skills shortages will occur. Problematically, some of these occupations are either already in shortage, or have historically been faced with recruitment difficulties. Nonetheless, Daniel is confident there are useful mechanisms industry can use to build a robust, future-proof workforce.
“Scenario planning, case studies and partnering with research bodies are all ways Labour Solutions Australia is eliminating the unknowns in our future – and the most important thing to do is to get the ball rolling,”
For now, engineering managers have the opportunity and the time to make their businesses more agile, but this won’t always be the case. Talk with the future workforce experts at Labour Solutions Australia to find out how your business can stay ahead of industry trends – today and tomorrow.