Demographic Trends – Energy Utilities

In this posting of demographic trends, I thought I’d examine an industry that is really being rocked – an industry that everyone cares about.  Demographic realities have created a labor shortage for Energy Utilities that can no longer be ignored. The potential risks to the industry are clear when you consider the roles effected by demographic trendsfossil plant managers, nuclear engineers, shift supervisors, transmission construction managers, technology professionals and energy traders. These roles are central to an Energy Utility’s ability to deliver uninterrupted power to its customers. For example: 

  • 48 years is the average age of a utility employee.  Only one other industry, out of 54, has a higher average age—Real Estate.
  • 19.2 % of the industry is within 5 to 7 years of retirement.
  • 16,000 fewer 16 to 34 year olds work in the industry, compared to 1990.


This Age Distribution chart depicts how demographic trends are influencing the Energy Utility’s workforce.  The chart is organized as follows: 

  • Workforce data for a single year is divided into six age categories
  • Each column represents the percentage of workers for an age category
  • Within an age category are multiple columns – each representing a different year’s data
  • The six columns for a single year depict the percentage distribution of workers by age.
  • The five columns within an age category depict trends in an age category’s workforce’s over time
  • Examining the chart in its entirety depicts how trends are shaping the flow of workers.

 This chart helps us see two critical events: Aging Workforce.  The average age of an Energy Utility employee is steadily rising.  In fact, since 1995, the number of workers, 55 and older has increased 2 ¼ times.  Older workers are the fastest growing segment within the industry. Shrinking Workforce Segment.  Since 1995, the 25 to 44 year old segment has contracted by 25%.  That means we have fewer managers and supervisors to support increasing demand for energy. These trends are significant and require utility executives to act now to address this business problem.  My concern is that while the executives I have spoken too are aware of the workforce crisis, they are not doing anything about it.  I can’t tell if they are hoping this will go away or if they plan to retire before the “pot boils over.”  Regardless, I’m still concerned……are you?  

All data is courtesy of the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor and Statistics


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