The future of skilled trades in the Digital Era

Quick Take

  • The workflows and tools used to support the skilled trades need to evolve to reflect new ways of working in our new digital era.
  • Apprenticeship programs provide an important opportunity to begin experimenting with new tools & workflows.
  • The Digital Plumbers Apprenticeship Initiative designed and implemented by Diaspora AI in collaboration with workforce development experts in Jamaica, provides an example of how utilities can begin exploring the value of introducing new digital workflows and assessing their costs.

Skilled Doers

Digital innovation in the skilled trades requires skilled doers to turn inventors’ and app makers' ideas into reality.  To make this happen, workers need improved tools, training and up-to-date information about their industry because their role is critical in making communities work. Skilled doers are the backbone of successful economies and require our support and respect now more than ever.

The water utilities industry that ensures we have reliable access to water is one where we need skilled doers more than ever. Right now, the statistics are not good. The grumbling and frustration of customers about their quality of services is at an all-time high - the price of services is mismatched with the perceived quality and value.

At Diaspora AI, we are helping to utilities integrate the next generation of digital tools that enable field staff to more easily collect critical data and spot risks in a timely and efficient manner. This will ensure that our communities are receiving the high-quality essential services they deserve.

“Continuously improving skilled labor is the only way to improve operations in the digital era.”

An example of investing in skilled doers

Our Digital Plumbers Initiative, implemented in collaboration with workforce development experts in Jamaica, provides one example of how to invest in skilled doers and develop digital leaders that can take your organization forward. A one-week Innovation Camp that focused on digital water audits was layered on to basic training as a precursor to an apprenticeship period with the water utility. The community background of the plumbers-in-training allowed them to monitor and track leaks and other water risks in way that traditional water utility staff were unable to.  This new data and advance warning is what forms the basis for a more people-driven and proactive non-revenue water management strategy.

The first industrial revolution required skilled doers to turn inventors’ ideas into reality.  These skilled doers didn’t just pop up from nowhere and head to factories. They had been nurtured through generations that had pride in their work, and the respect of the establishment for their critical role in making communities work. Today, even with increasing digitization and automation, the formula has not changed. Invest now in your field staff so they can keep abreast with the changing world as they grow pride in their trade.

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