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Workforce Futures: How Las Vegas is Dealing With its Changing Workforce

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The American workforce of today is changing more rapidly than ever before. This year marks the first year the baby boom generation is expected to start retiring. Immigration is occurring as a faster pace than ever before and more women are entering the workplace. In addition, the workload in the utility industry is changing to meet ever-increasing regulatory requirements, customer demands for greater productivity and accountability, and an aging infrastructure that requires increasingly more maintenance. The convergence of these and other factors demand a highly flexible workforce, that needs an efficient supporting cast, and depends on highly effective leadership.

Workforce development, including the core workforce, supporting roles, and leadership at the executive and mid-management levels, includes many different concepts, options, and philosophies. One of the more comprehensive workforce development concepts is workforce flexibility. Simply defined, workforce flexibility is the proper mix of specialists and generalists that accomplishes the business purpose of an enterprise. Most of the core business workload (roughly 80%) is assumed to be accomplished by the generalists. To be efficient, generalists rely on efficient support systems, such as finance, human resources, purchasing/inventory, planning/scheduling, and business analysis. They also need specialists to support the core business. Coordinating all of these resources in the face of changing demographics and workloads to meet a common objective requires highly effective leadership.

An effective training program might seem to be the panacea to develop flexible, multi-skilled workers, more efficient support staff aligned with the worker's needs, experienced and knowledgeable specialists, and more effective leaders. Careful attention to the components that impact a training program is necessary for the training to be effective. Progressive and repetitive training from theory to simulated situations produces permanent behavior modification. This paper outlines some of the theory, and describes one utility's practical application.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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