Work Force Planning
According to the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD), an aging work force plays a significant role in the industry’s transformation. According to CEWD’s 2013 “Gaps in the Energy Workforce Pipeline” survey, a large number of workers in our industry will retire in the next five to ten years. The good news is that the industry is making progress filling the gap with younger employees.
A skilled work force is critical to AEP’s success. Many of our skilled and technical employees, such as plant operators and line mechanics, are approaching retirement. AEP defines retirement eligibility as a minimum of 55 years with 10 years of service. To prepare and develop the work force of the future, we are actively engaged in several initiatives to attract people with the technical skills we will need. This can be challenging as we find ourselves competing with other industries, such as the shale gas and technology-driven industries, for the same skilled workforce.
One way we are addressing this potential labor shortfall is by developing work plans for each of our business units to identify potential staffing gaps, as well as opportunities to educate, train and prepare our future workforce. Work force planning enables us to grow the business while giving our employees opportunities to develop their knowledge and their skills.
Work force planning became particularly valuable when we announced plans to retire coal units, which eliminated hundreds of jobs. We developed a Generation Staffing Plan specifically to help inform, educate, counsel and give those employees who were affected by the closings every opportunity to find another job with AEP. Through this plan, we posted approximately 250 future positions online that were only made available to those workers at the affected units. Approximately 60 percent of those positions were filled by employees who would have otherwise lost their jobs.
Knowing your job is going to be eliminated is stressful, and we wanted to do everything we could to support our employees. We communicated frequently, gave them first access to other AEP job openings, helped prepare some for retirement, and provided training needed for other jobs within AEP. For those who could not find another job with AEP, they will receive severance and outplacement services. If an employee in an affected plant took a job at another plant that required relocation, AEP provided a relocation stipend.