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It’s hard to believe that any employers in today’s economic climate would be worried about not finding enough workers, but according to a recent article by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), American utility companies are bracing for an upcoming labor shortage.

According to the article, titled “Can They Keep Our Lights On?” (only accessible by SHRM members), 30-40 percent of workers in the electric power industry alone will be eligible to retire by 2013. Similar trends are expected in the other utilties. The shortages are expected in nearly every position, including executives and engineers.

So are utilities an area that you, as a recruiter, may want to pursue? How can you help current or future utility industry clients fulfill their staffing needs? Well, you may want to start by offering contracting services. There are a number of ways that contracting can help. As we’ve mentioned in previous blog articles, many Baby Boomers are not quite ready to bow out of the workforce entirely, but they do want more work-life balance. So maybe a utility client could retain some of their older workers as contractors so that they could provide their skills and knowledge to younger workers on more of a consulting, part-time basis. And if they do suddenly lose a skilled engineer or executive to retirement, hiring a contractor with experience in utilities could help them bridge the gap until they find a more permanent solution.

Because utility jobs are highly skilled and knowledge-intensive, it is important to find the right fit. Contracting can also help with this by allowing utility companies to hire workers on a trial, contract basis. A contractor could work/train under more experienced workers, and if he/she doesn’t catch on, the company could simply end the assignment. Or if company likes what they see during the trial period, they could then extend a direct offer to the contractor.

FoxHire has already noted previous blog posts that engineering is one of the hottest areas for contract placements, and since that is one of the main areas utility companies are concerned about, contracting seems like a natural fit. If your other sources of placements have run dry in this difficult economic environment, utilities may be a new source to tap into!

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