Sunday, November 27, 2011

Peak Manpower -- The Other Threat Besides Political Peak Oil

The need for more skilled energy workers has become acute around the world. In many countries, severe energy shortages are forcing the temporary shutdowns of important industries -- adding further economic hardship to an ongoing global recession. Here is what they are saying about Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, where recent government policies have thrown energy industries topsy-turvy:
More than half of energy and utilities firms in Germany, Austria and Switzerland see an urgent need in specialist talent, according to energy and utilities consultancy firm Baringa.

Germany’s recent phase-out of nuclear technology, the transition to renewables, and growing demand for mobile workforces and energy-efficient construction are seen as key new requirements and challenges in the area.

...Partner at Baringa, Maik Neubauer says: “An amazing 69% of the companies surveyed have not yet aligned their HR planning and strategic development with the new requirements of the energy market. This is a cause for concern, especially if the business risks posed by not being able to recruit the right people at the right time are being underestimated.” _Recruiter
The ill-advised move to shut down reliable nuclear power plants in favour of expensive and unreliable big wind eneryg, is a mistake that will haunt these nations for decades -- at least until they take strong steps to reverse their poor moves.

In the North Sea area, a shortage of skilled oil workers is hampering development of rich new oil & gas finds.
ASEVERE shortage of skilled engineers could threaten to hinder the predicted North Sea boom. Industry commentators are reporting the oil market is set for a bumper growth period following the discovery of lucrative new fields.

...A recent survey claimed that more than half of the firms consulted said attracting the appropriate skilled staff presented them with their toughest challenge. But with a lack of the right personnel existing within the industry, just how are they meant to meet the future demand? _PressandJournal
In Australia, industries are questioning whether women can be trained to fill the shortage of skilled workers in the mining sector, which is particularly active. Unfortunately, these industries are likely to discover that the introduction of women into a male-dominant workplace brings a whole new set of problems, dangers, and liabilities to the company and to fellow-workers alike. Jobs are a cost -- and a potential liability to a company -- after all.

In nations with extremely low birth rates and rapidly ageing societies, sending more young women into potentially dangerous workplaces is not the brightest idea that anyone has had.
"There's a tremendous shortage of skilled workers," said Craig Giffi, a vice chairman of the consulting firm Deloitte. A recent survey it did found that 83% of manufacturers reported a moderate or severe shortage of skilled production workers to hire.

Pay levels provide evidence. While hourly wages in the broad category of maintenance and repair workers rose 6.4% from 2007 to 2010, increases were 10% in the subcategory of heavy-vehicle mechanics and 15% for specialists in electrical repairs on commercial and industrial equipment. The implication is that employers were competing for a limited pool of qualified workers.
The Deloitte study found that 74% of manufacturers said a shortage of skilled production workers had a "significant negative impact" on either their productivity or expansion plans. _WSJ_FoxNews
The shortage of skilled workers extends virtually around the globe.
More than half of U.S. employers report having a hard time finding people to fill some of their most critical positions. Quite a few countries around the world are experiencing the same problem, according to a global survey by international employment agency, ManpowerGroup.

... According to this year’s ManpowerGroup survey of 39 countries, 34 percent of employers worldwide say they have trouble finding qualified workers. While 52% percent of U.S. employers have the same problem filling critical positions, Japan, India and Brazil have the most difficult time.

...The hardest jobs to fill are technicians, skilled trades, sales representatives that require highly technical knowledge.

Jatan Shah, Chief Technology Office of QSC Audio says his company has been expanding and hiring. But he says finding the right worker for positions from engineers to plant workers has been a challenge. “It takes anywhere from three months to a year to fill certain positions.

New Zealand is hiring -- and has to travel overseas to find qualified workers in many areas.

University graduates in a wide range of subjects, simply lack practical skills for the modern workplace. Industries must invest a great deal of money in training new hires, and it is not clear that the aggravation of training and the risk of lawsuits by female and minority employees will ever be compensated by productivity -- particularly from graduates of women's studies, ethnic studies, or third world underwater matriarchal basketweaving cultural studies.

The "feminisation" -- or dumbing down -- of many formerly rigorous university studies programs has left employers doubtful of the quality of new college graduates.

Even India finds that its industries must spend a great deal of money training fresh hires driectly out of school:
Most Indian IT firms also have to invest significant amount in training freshers to get them job ready.

At Infosys for one, freshers go through an average of 3-6 months of training before becoming billable....Companies invest heavily on training and upgrading talent. _TOI

So, the problem is seen in both the high paying skilled blue collar sectors, and in the technical college educated sectors. And employers are feeling the pain, and having to cut back on established lines as well as cancelling other projects which they could have embarked upon -- if only they had the skilled workers.

This shortage of skills -- a human capital shortage, really -- is adding a negative impact to the already dire situations of western nations coming from unwise policies of debt, demography, bureaucratic overreach, and energy starvation.

In the energy industries, manpower shortages can lead to the shutdowns of important industries, with further degradation of an already degraded economic climate.

In the US, the Obama administration is pursuing a policy of intentional energy starvation, with all of its toxic fallout on the economy. In other parts of the world, the problem is likely to be only incidental to generally unwise governmental policies.

Regardless, government is one of the ways in which a society can be starved of energy -- in the form of political peak oil, or political peak energy. Peak manpower skills, and manpower skills shortages are the other significant way. Both problems are ongoing in the midst of general problems of debt and demographic decay.

Parts of this article were cross-posted from Al Fin blog.



Blogger Whirlwind22 said...

Hopefully this wont result in the collapse of industrial civilization. Peak oil, this its all to much to handle sometimes.

5:33 PM  

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