Brand new phase on the job market
The next few years will see a decisive change in the work being performed in the energy sector. Digitalisation, decarbonisation and decentralised energy production will shape the industry. Taken together, these factors will lead to the most substantial changes in the world of work seen in decades: an entire industry branch will be revolutionised. This is the conclusion drawn by the study on the future of work conducted by the consulting firm Deloitte Austria on behalf of Wien Energie.
Humans and machines working together in new ways
The pace of automation will accelerate significantly, with data, algorithms and artificial intelligence changing the way in which humans and machines interact to perform work processes. Nearly half of the tasks in the job description of a power plant technician may potentially be automated and performed by a machine in the future, while around one third of work of sales employee has the potential to be automated.
“The digitally-driven changes in the world of work mean that lifelong learning will be a fundamental part of any successful career. The energy companies are therefore being confronted with major challenges: retraining parts of the workforce, recruiting highly qualified university graduates from technical and scientific disciplines, developing new business models and transforming working methods along with the corporate culture,” explains Anna Nowshad, Director of Human Capital at Deloitte Austria.
Six driving forces of change
Technological innovation has been shaping the energy sector for decades. What has changed, however, is the speed at which change is progressing, as well as the extent and significance of this change for the core business of energy companies. The study has identified six driving forces of change that will have an effect on the labour market both in the energy sector and the wider field of industry in the coming years:
- Widespread technology: Innovative technologies will penetrate all areas of life and work
- Huge volumes of data: Unprecedented volumes of data in real time that deliver new insights
- Changing customer needs: Social change, the Internet and new competitors call for a new customer focus
- Digital leadership: Managers caught been between externally imposed requirements and new business models
- Five generations in the world of work: Innovation by exploiting demographic diversity
- Alternative sourcing strategies and new talent pools as competitive advantages
Technical innovation requires taking a broader view
However, the dynamics of digital change are now forcing energy companies and employees to grapple with topics which call for completely new business fields, processes and corresponding expertise to be developed. Smartphones, voice assistants and streaming services are a part of everyday life and shape customer behaviour. Energy providers who are able to integrate new technologies seamlessly into their everyday work, deliver these in a user-friendly design or link them to their own business models at an equally high speed will be able to enjoy a significant competitive advantage.
“According to our findings, the number of employees in the industry is relatively stable, but every third or fourth job is moving heavily in the direction of IT and data knowledge. Blockchain and drone specialists, data analysts and chatbot programmers are suddenly becoming relevant to the energy sector. These jobs did not even exist ten years ago,” says Michael Strebl of Wien Energie.
Robots reduce the time needed for routine activities
Technologies such as robotics or machine learning are finding their way into everyday working life, and Wien Energie has already geared itself up for the future. There are currently a number of projects being implemented to relieve the workload of recurring activities, for example via robotic process automation. What this means, for instance, is that a department with around fifteen employees can process 12,000 emails automatically every year, saving an estimated 600 hours of work.