Getting the job done
The shortage of technicians is one of the major barriers holding back the energy transition. Alliander expects to have to recruit over 2,500 additional technicians. At the same time, technicians have more and more job vacancies to choose from each month. In December 2022, there were 55 vacancies per 1,000 jobs in the energy sector, according to Statistics Netherlands (year end 2021: 55). This means that we not only put effort into attracting and training new technicians but also invest in new target groups (such as highly skilled migrants) and commit to retaining our technicians by offering them more extensive career opportunities.
In an increasingly tight technical labour market, we managed to recruit more technicians in every quarter of 2022. A total of 387 technicians were successfully hired. We achieved this result through close cooperation between the recruitment and business departments, and effective labour market communication. We proactively seek out and address our target audiences digitally and during events. In 2022, we also started to expand our recruitment teams.
Labour market, training and retention
In 2022, Alliander developed its Labour Market & Training Vision, which acts as a roadmap for its ambitions in the labour market and the field of education in an extremely tight labour market. This led to the creation of the Multidisciplinary Labour Market, Training and Retention Team (MDT AS&B). This team takes an integrated approach to the issue of labour shortages.
In 2022, this multidisciplinary team worked to develop an updated training programme for mechanics, foremen and technicians. That programme is called Focused Training. Learning and working are brought closer together in the programme. The training course consists of several modules that tie in with the knowledge and experience that lateral entrants and migrant workers, for example, already possess. We also opened a unique training centre for high-voltage technicians at the Anklaar electricity substation in October. Students can get their basic training here faster and more safely. This way of learning is more effective and more fun than simulated exercises at a high-voltage station. Each year, about 30 new technicians graduate from this course, ready for the work they will do in practice. In addition, the MDT intensified cooperation with education institutions. This has resulted directly in joint teaching initiatives in education and in stronger profiling of technical subjects and IT among young people.
In our strategic workforce planning, we try to anticipate the skills needed for the energy supply of the future. Whenever possible, we retrain colleagues. When doing so, we assess as precisely as possible when we can begin retraining. Unfortunately, retraining will not be possible for all positions. In that case, we offer assistance through our Career Centre.
Progress has also been made in the technical sector. Central government, the employer organisations and the technical sectors have jointly launched the Technology Action Plan to address the structural shortage of technicians. The action plan consists of a broad package of measures to attract and recruit more people into technical jobs, strengthen technical education, appeal to new target groups, promote technical labour migration and increase labour productivity through innovation. In November, the action plan was presented to the five responsible ministers. In the coming period, the measures outlined in the action plan will be fleshed out further. Alliander is closely involved via our employers’ association WENB. We also share our experiences and expertise, to ensure that the proposed measures tie in with the practical requirements.
Alliander’s own technical college
The number of courses taken by new and experienced colleagues at Alliander's technical college (‘Alliander Technische Bedrijfsschool’) amounted to 1,962 in total. These courses corresponded as much as possible to real-life situations and were arranged at various training locations. We also deployed innovative forms of learning in 2022, such as the HoloLens. This HoloLens allows students see the object they need to work on. The HoloLens also projects instructions, so that the student can practice ‘for real’. They can also access video clips, 3D models and photos via this lens. Alliander and its technical college are involved as partners in labour market platforms such as mbostart.nl and TechGelderland.
Revamped recruitment campaigns
For several years, we have conducted intensive recruitment campaigns internally and externally to publicise vacancies for technicians. In August 2022, we launched the ‘100 Good Reasons Campaign’. The goal of this campaign is to get more technicians and IT professionals interested in Alliander as an employer. In 2022, employees were also able to introduce new technicians to Alliander through the internal referral programme. The programme attracted 425 potential candidates in 2022, 109 of whom were offered a contract.
Recognition of Acquired Competences (EVC)
Since 2022, employees can start a Recognition of Acquired Competences track. This track is designed for employees who do not quite meet a specific educational requirement but do have previously acquired competences. Recognition of these previously acquired competences exempts them from part of the training programme, letting them complete their training more quickly.
Refugees with residence permits
In 2022, nine refugees with a residence permit received their secondary vocational education (MBO) level 3 diplomas as senior low-voltage and medium-voltage distribution mechanics. These new colleagues spend three years training to attain the certificates they need. They are then ready to start working independently in a technical job and are offered a job at Liander.