Duke Energy has
provided funding for
CFCC's power line
As these skills continue to grow in importance,
employers are looking to community colleges for
help in teaching and assessing them.
IMPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY
Public utility company Duke Energy isn’t just looking
for engineers and technicians who can design and
run the systems needed to deliver electricity to its
7. 6 million customers across six states. The company
also needs line workers with the problem solving and
communication skills needed to work in teams effectively as they respond to emergencies in the field.
“One of the main roles of a line worker is to
troubleshoot potential issues with a customer,” says
Stan Sherrill, vice president of talent acquisition and
workforce development for the company. “They must
be able to assess the situation, identify and diagnose
the issue, and find solutions to the customer’s con-
cern. This process takes independent problem solving
and critical thinking skills to be successful.”
Duke Energy’s business is a good example of how
technology is revolutionizing key operations. The
company is in the process of transforming its electri-
cal grid from an analog to a digital infrastructure.
“This will help us better serve our customers and
communicate more easily with them,” Sherrill says.
“We’ll be able to understand their needs and where
outages are more effectively, so that we can respond
The skills required of employees continue to
evolve as the company introduces more technology
into the field and its grid. “Our current workforce has
to be much more accustomed to using technology in
just about every facet of their work life,” Sherrill says.
“We have deployed tablets and smart phones exten-
sively in almost every field role now.”
Whereas the company used to physically inspect
miles of power lines by helicopter, in many cases they
are now using drone technology to accomplish this
task. Solar farms located across the country feed real-
time data to a single facility in Charlotte, where the
panels are remotely monitored and controlled.
“The control room looks like something out of
Star Trek,” Sherrill says. “Students have to be adept
at understanding and interfacing with all of these
various technologies that didn’t exist 20 years ago.”
We often think of millennials as being natu-
rally tech-savvy, because they have grown up with
smart phones and other technologies embedded
in their lives. But just because they know how to
swipe an app doesn’t mean they know how to criti-
cally analyze information.
“It’s less about the technology and more about the
critical thinking skills required,” Sherrill notes.
The Hartford’s Kinney agrees. “Our industry,
like many, has become much more data-centric,”
he observes. “What we have at our fingertips from
ATTRIBUTE OF RESPONDENTS
Problem-solving skills 82.9%
Ability to work in a team 82.9%
Communication skills (written) 80.3%
Strong work ethic 68.4%
Analytical/quantitative skills 67.5%
Communication skills (verbal) 67.5%
THE SKILLS EMPLOYERS VALUE MOST
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) asked
employers participating in its Job Outlook 2018 survey which attributes
they most value among new hires, beyond a strong GPA and technical
skills pertaining to the job at hand.
HERE ARE THE TOP RESULTS: