HOW many times do we wish we could convert hindsight into foresight? My hindsight is generally 20:20, and I am sure yours is, too. However, I can’t help thinking that, in the current climate, we could do with a solid dose of hindsight conversion.
In the past week or so, I have been to both the Energy Institute Awards dinner and to PETEX, and by the time this has been printed, to the nuclear industry’s annual bash.
I have been listening carefully to people’s opinion of how things are (not only at events, I hasten to add) and, of course, to what people think might be ahead of us.
I am reminded at this point of a very insightful quote from the renowned undersea explorer, Jacques Cousteau. He said of sharks what we might about the economy – that in all his years of studying sharks, the only thing that was predictable about them was that they were unpredictable.
Without doubt, 2009 promises to be tough; not hard to figure that out. But we’ll go on using energy, that’s for sure. One is told that growth in energy consumption has slowed – but it’s still growing.
I am hearing a lot of other things, too. But, right now, I’m wondering how to filter out good information from bad. We are blessed and cursed in this information age.
A basic question is: is the energy glass half full or half empty? What does either look like?
We are always in danger of talking ourselves out of progress. As the eternal optimist, I see opportunity in every difficulty, even if the media could well convince us yet that all is lost.
On the other hand, we may be able to fight (not spend like the Government) our way out. Growth to me is growth and, translating that back to my normal subject, still suggests that there are not enough people to go around the energy industry.
And if we repeat the mistakes of the past as things tighten – fire people – there will be no experience around, either. Will companies just go ahead as they have in the past and take the “opportunity” to let folks near retirement go early?
Be careful of the messages. A recent article on IT skills asked the question: is there still as skills crisis? The tone suggested that there wasn’t.
That got my attention straight away, as you can imagine. The reported figures showed a reduction in shortages. Reality – the figures showed that more than 40% of respondents were reporting a shortage of critical skills.
Plummeting economy or not, one thing is clear, the number of retirees is spiralling upwards at an increasingly alarming rate.
Something else that got my attention was the programme of events for the opening sessions of PETEX this year: when going to press, there must have been sufficient doubt as to who the incoming UK energy minister was going to be (all other speaking slots had names against them). Mike O’Brien swooped in half-an-hour late, told the assembled masses how committed the Government was and promptly left. Now that’s commitment.
Many delegates I spoke with at the event, and who heard O’Brien speak, commented that it might have been tactically smart to beat a hasty retreat. Had the Government considered the North Sea tax situation more sensibly a few years ago, Britain would be in less of a mess than it is now.
So a warning: please don’t be turning around in a few years’ time, having done nothing to prevent the problem, and wonder how to solve the problem of a lack of experienced people caused by retirement.
Jon Glesinger is CEO of Expert Alumni