The reality of the ageing workforce crisis

As many skilled engineers start to reach retirement age, organisations are worried about an impending skills shortage. Because let’s face it, without field service engineers, there can be no field service. Indeed, according to one report[1], the threat of an ageing workforce is of real concern to the sector. And it’s a fear that is growing.

The research, which provides a snapshot of current recruitment and development trends amongst field service organisations discovered that 53% of respondents believe that replacing an ageing workforce is a challenge for their organisations. That’s up from 48% in 2017.

What is the solution?

Employing Millennials

By the middle of the next decade, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. So, it makes sense that they could fill the gap left by their older peers. But, the truth is that this new generation wants very different things to the one they are replacing. Things such as career diversity, flexible working, a better work-life balance, and productivity savers. And, in response, field service companies must acknowledge and adapt to new ways of doing things if they want to attract the best people.

Worryingly, while there are some simple steps field service businesses can take to appeal to Millennials, according to the research the majority have failed to do so. In fact, 62% have not adapted their training and development programs to take into account the cultural differences Millennials bring to an organisation.

Find out more about how field service organisations can appeal to a new generational workforce.

Outsourcing

Another solution to the ageing workforce crisis highlighted by the authors of the report was outsourcing. And it seems like 50% of organisations are already outsourcing at least some of their service work. Furthermore, there does appear to be an increase in outsourcing to meet demand.

However, while this is undeniably a good short-term solution, the cost of this approach could soon mount up.

Technology

Asking your people to do more is often counter-productive; leading to overworked teams and lost days due to stress. Likewise, investing in more in-house staff or outsourcing isn’t always feasible. But, with developments in technology showing no signs of slowing down, could technology be the solution?

Of course, using machine learning to improve customer service is already happening. For example, in many field service companies, customer service teams are being supported by AI bots, and online self-service solutions (e.g. field service customer dashboards). But what about engineers on the ground?

Well yes. For example, with Mixed Reality (MR) real-world and digital objects interact. And, if engineers have access to MR headsets, they will be able to communicate and share information on an unparalleled scale, even if they are miles apart. So, with MR, senior engineers could simply give up the pressure of the day job while guiding a new generation of staff from the comfort of their own home. So, in the face of a skills shortage, MR could provide a compelling solution.

Find out more about Mixed Reality and how it could change the field service industry.

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[1] Field Service News in partnership with Si2 Partners, Workammo and Service People Matters