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Preparing for the Future: The Development of a High School Utilities Intern Program for the City of Akron, Ohio

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The City of Akron Public Utilities Bureau (APUB), like an ever increasing number of public utilities, is feeling the impact that aging baby-boomers are starting to have on the workforce as they retire from employment. Additionally, the majority of the up and coming workforce targets their career path towards the private sector, being driven by an entirely different set of values as compared to previous generations of utility workers. The result is that public utilities are facing a severe shortage of qualified applicants in their candidate pool. APUB is facing a situation with 40% of the entire workforce and 67% of the supervisory staff eligible to retire in the next five years.

APUB has been involved in a re-engineering process that began in 1999. To date, changes in the organizational structure, work practices and technology have been implemented. Staffing reductions realized through natural attrition, coupled with selective hiring city-wide made it very clear that the utility required a succession plan for not only key supervisory positions but a plan needed to be developed to ensure a continuing flow of entry level employees that have the ability and desire to promote to the more skilled positions.

Due to the high number of employees eligible to retire and the shortage of younger, skilled workers, the utility has taken a “grow your own” attitude to partially deal with the impending situation. The APUB devised and implemented a high school Utilities Intern program in partnership with the Akron Public Schools (APS).

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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