It would not have been a pleasant break at the end of 2017 for those working in the power industry. General Electric (GE) is retrenching 12,000 employees from their electrical power division; it equates to 18 percent of their workforce. The European branches of GE Power seem to be the hardest hit; Switzerland and Germany are losing the most employees.
The company initially made its fortune when Thomas Edison’s idea for the incandescent light bulb was realized. In November 2017 - triggering the end of an era for the company - they announced that the light bulb division would be closing.
The move will purportedly save them $1 billion in 2018.
GE Power Chief Executive Russell Stokes, in a statement, said:
“This decision was painful but necessary for GE Power to respond to the disruption in the power market, which is driving significantly lower volumes in products and services.
GE is pointing to the energy industry’s ongoing move from fossil fuels to alternative renewable energy for its current woes. It is, however, not the only power company experiencing a downturn. Siemens AG recently let 6,900 employees go and Siemens has reduced its global workforce, in its power and gas divisions, by 2 percent.
Siemens Management Lisa Davis said:
“The power generation industry is experiencing disruption of unprecedented scope and speed. With their innovative strength and rapidly expanding generation capacity, renewables are putting other forms of power generation under increasing pressure.”
General Electric also appointed new CEO John Flannery in an attempt to steer the company away from the despair it had witnessed during 2017. His first move was to buy 60,000 of GE’s share.
The company, unfortunately, became the worst-performing stock on the Dow Jones Industrial Average last year - a shocking decline for a blue chip stock. The stock had fallen by more than 42.2 percent since the beginning of 2017. The forecast for 2018 doesn’t look any healthier.
How to remain relevant
Cross-skilling, up-skilling and remaining relevant in your industry, which may very well change in the future, is critical. As the world enters the fourth industrial revolution we all need to become more nimble and remain watchful; all opportunities to professionally develop must be considered.
For example, if a worker in the manufacturing sector does not learn the principles of a disrupting technology, like rapid prototyping (3D printing); it may indeed be to his detriment. By keeping an eye on such technologies and ensuring his skills broaden - in line with the demands of his industry - he is much more likely to remain in demand.
Competence in a career that is subject to change is always difficult. With the right tools, however, it is doable. Perhaps, John Lorriman says it best in his book ‘Continuing Professional Development: A Practical Approach’: “You own the world’s most powerful computer -- your brain.”
Merriman, Editing by Jane, et al. “Siemens to Cut 6,900 Jobs to Tackle Flailing Turbines Business.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 16 Nov. 2017, www.reuters.com/article/us-siemens-power-restructuring/siemens-to-cut-6900-jobs-to-tackle-flailing-turbines-business-idUSKBN1DG257.
Revill, John. “General Electric to Cut 12,000 Jobs in Power Business Revamp.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 7 Dec. 2017, www.reuters.com/article/us-ge-jobs/general-electric-to-cut-12000-jobs-in-power-business-revamp-idUSKBN1E11GU.