FLATE-FESC Job Task Analysis for the Smart Grid Technician Program

As part of a partnership with the Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC), FLATE coordinated an occupational analysis workshop for the Smart Grid Technician program in Florida, April 23 – 24 at Palm Beach State College. The workshop was facilitated by the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC) and sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It was one of many Job Task Analysis (JTA) workshops being held across the country to better inform and guide our educational communities as they attempt to meet the emerging technician-level workforce demands in the area of energy technology.

Participants included 12 smart grid content experts - 8 from the education realm and 4 from industry. The workshop took place over two days with the goal of gathering input on the real-world tasks and functions of the Smart Grid Technician job. The JTA process analyzes an occupation systematically to identify the range of tasks required to perform a job.

JTA Process Steps:
  • Review the job description.
  • Review the definition of technician.
  • Brainstorm to identify occupational categories (general areas of responsibility).
  • Brainstorm to identify occupational tasks (specific job functions).
  • Review, refine, and prioritize the broad occupational categories.
  • Review, refine, and prioritize the job tasks/functions within each occupational categories.
  • Identify knowledge and skills (technical and employability).
  • Identify tools and equipment necessary for learning.
  • Review and refine job description and technician definition.
  • Participants will receive for review and approval, a draft occupational profile including all the above items.
  • Final occupational profile will be sent to wider local audience of experts in the field for validation.
During the Workshop, participants crafted this definition for Smart Grid Technician:

The SMART GRID TECHNICIAN installs, maintains, troubleshoots, repairs, replaces, updates, and configures smart grid-specific components, subsystems, and systems.

A Job Task List was also created highlighting the overall duties and tasks that comprise the position refer to the figure below

After the JTA Task List was completed, participants worked together to define the essential items that help workers to perform their duties and tasks, but that are NOT duties or tasks themselves:

TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND ATTRIBUTES (e.g. basic academic competencies, customer service, blueprint reading, computer programming)

EMPLOYABILITY KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND ATTRIBUTES (e.g. communication, critical thinking, people skills, personal effectiveness)

 TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT (e.g. basic technician tool kit, fiber optic tester, ammeters, communications interface, power quality monitors)

There is an immediate need to facilitate the development of a trained and skilled workforce capable of implementing a national clean-energy smart grid and providing for the next generation of skilled technicians, engineers and managers for the electric power industry. As the aging utility workforce moves toward retirement, it is essential to address these future shortages of skilled workers whose jobs are directly related to the national smart grid.

This effort will help inform future educational offerings as well as determining how best to target available resources to develop an education or training program that is based on local industry needs, and that will help educate our local community’s workforce. With the JTA results in hand, our next steps include using the information to develop an online labor market survey, targeted directly to local/regional business and industry that might employ smart grid workers in the Palm Beach region, or possibly conduct a Florida-wide survey to see if there are any other areas that may have Smart Grid technician jobs. Data on current and projected jobs will drive actual new program development at Florida state and community colleges. Additionally, FLATE and Palm Beach State College will be looking at alignment of the JTA results with the existing programs offered in engineering technology and electrical power technology and what courses need to be developed. 

To learn more about Smart Grid, visit https://www.smartgrid.gov/the_smart_grid. To read the full report visit http://flate.pbworks.com/w/page/90389384/2015FLATEPresentationsWebinarsandMeetingFiles. You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at mbarger@hccfl.edu for more information. 

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