To attract a new generation of lineworkers, the electric utility industry will need to rethink the way new workers are trained.

Like many industries, electric utilities are having to deal with the departure of a large workforce demographic–baby boomers born between the mid 1940s and 1960s who are reaching retirement age.

A recent Utility Products article examined new approaches to training young workers who have grown up in an always-connected information age–workers who are comfortable with technology and rely on smartphones, tablets and desktop devices to get the information they need.

The author recommends a variety of tech-savvy teaching approaches, including:

Video conferencing: GoToMeeting, WebEx, Skype and other video communication programs allow instructors to hold virtual classes with students across the world. Remote learning helps reduce travel costs and can offer a variety of convenient times for students to attend classes.

Online learning management systems (LMS): These web-based apps allow students to work through course material at their own pace. These systems have tracking, reporting and testing features that can keep instructors from being overwhelmed by administrative work. Instead, they are free to develop improved course materials or improve their own knowledge and skill sets, which ultimately benefit the students.

Learning management systems can also support digital field performance reviews: Rather than time-consuming paper-based performance reviews, supervisors and trainers can use tablet-based digital forms that can be submitted over the Internet.

In addition to bringing on new members of the workforce, these technologies can also be used for continuing education to ensure utility linemen stay well-trained in both technical skills and safety knowledge.