Developing Young Talent for a Future in the Power Industry
Established in 1901, CLP is one of the largest energy companies in the Asia-Pacific Region. In Hong Kong, the company runs a vertically integrated power supply business covering electricity generation, transmission and distribution as well as customer services. CLP is responsible for supplying electricity to approximately 80% of the population across Kowloon, the New Territories and most outlying islands. CLP also has a regional presence in Asia-Pacific, operating power generation businesses in India, Australia and China.
CLP’s mission is to ensure the provision of safe, reliable and sustainable electricity to ‘power communities from one generation to the next’. With this long-term vision in mind, CLP set up its ‘Power Academy’ in 2017 with a mission to create a world-class professional training institution, providing high-quality certified training programmes for people who want to pursue a career in the power industry.
With Hong Kong’s thriving economy in the last decade, the demand for qualified professionals to support Hong Kong’s sustainable development has increased. However, despite recent social trends in the context of Climate Change and a rising advocacy for more sustainable development in Hong Kong’s power sector, there is a lack of engineering talent coming through to meet this demand.
At present, CLP faces the challenge of increasing retirement rates among its ageing workforce coupled with stagnating intakes of student engineers. This double trend in the past few years means that precious knowledge and expertise is being lost as experienced power engineers retire. Indeed, there seems to be a lack of interest in pursuing careers in engineering or the power industry. Younger generations view such pursuits as less glamourous and dynamic than careers in law or finance. CLP believes the cause of this is ultimately a lack of awareness of the opportunities available to students and young professionals in the power industry.
Knowledge and expertise specific to the power industry is crucial to the success of CLP’s business for the future, particularly with the emergence of cutting-edge innovation in renewable energy systems. It is imperative for CLP to ensure that up-to-date knowledge is transferred and developed in the next generation of engineers. As such, CLP aims to improve the perception of careers in engineering by leveraging its state-of-the-art facilities to showcase how new technologies can be deployed in the power industry. This incorporates a more applied and practical aspect to academia’s theoretical approach to engineering studies.
CLP faces the challenge of increasing retirement rates among its ageing workforce coupled with stagnating intakes of student engineers.
To solve this inadequate supply of talent, CLP set up the ‘CLP Power Academy’ – an innovative model to expand the talent pool of skilled labour within the power industry and incubate the required talent to achieve CLP’s ambition of providing safe, reliable and sustainable power.
Partnering with leading educational institutions such as the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the University of Strathclyde (UoS) in Scotland, the CLP Power Academy provides individuals with theoretical expertise but also the relevant practical experience required to succeed in the power industry. Offering a variety of accredited courses, CLP’s model supplements classroom lectures with practical sessions, giving students the opportunity to have hands-on experience of power equipment in workshops to maximise learning. Similarly, visits to power facilities and CLP work sites, as well as guest lectures and job shadowing opportunities will also be provided to students so they may gain valuable experience of working in the power industry. Thus, the CLP Power Academy not only provides students and young adults with professional qualifications for their career development, but also creates more rounded and agile individuals that can adapt to the future demands of the industry.
This community-focused approach effectively creates social value by giving young professionals new opportunities to advance their careers, ultimately enhancing the existing pool of talent. Moreover, by investing in the development of the next generation of power engineers, CLP derives an economic benefit in terms of reduced training costs while creating a secure pipeline of skilled talent equipped with the relevant knowledge to drive the sustainable development of Hong Kong’s power industry.
The ‘CLP Power Academy’ aims to expand the talent pool of skilled labour within the power industry and incubate the required talent to achieve CLP’s ambition.
The Shared Value Strategy
CLP set up the CLP Power Academy to fill the potential knowledge gap for their business. To develop a new generation of talent in power engineering, the Academy offers a total of 7 accredited programmes covering generation engineering, electrical engineering, operational safety, management and more. These courses include vocational training programmes in partnership with the Vocational Training Council. For instance, the Certificate of Junior Electricians and Diploma in Power Engineering provides school leavers or non-degree holders with experience in any field with an entry point into a career in power engineering. Indeed, upon completing a Diploma in Power Engineering, students can progress further by taking the Professional Diploma in Power Engineering, specialising in either the power systems or power plants streams. Taught in both English and Chinese, these programmes equip students with industry-recognised qualifications as well as transferrable language skills.
A unique highlight of CLP’s offering is the Dual Master’s Degree (MPhil and MSc). In collaboration with The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and UoS, the programme represents Hong Kong’s first joint academic and industry-run part-time Dual Master’s Degree. The two and a half year-programme combines academic research with professional practice to acquire specific knowledge of power system operation and management. The programme also teaches the application of the latest technological innovations including, big data analytics, IoT technology and artificial intelligence (AI).
Students and young professionals handle new digital technologies such as robots, drones, VR and AI.
In training students and young professionals to handle new digital technologies such as robots, drones and AI, CLP is developing a more adept pool of talent that will be able to meet the new energy requirements of the future and contribute to Hong Kong’s sustainable development. Renewable energy systems such as solar and wind require a different set of expertise compared to more traditional forms of energy generation such as coal and gas. Nowadays, new technologies are increasingly being integrated into existing power infrastructure to reduce inefficiency and maximise safety. Robots and drones are used to perform safety checks on equipment and monitor power generation performance. Similarly, artificial intelligence is widely integrated into CLP’s user interface to improve the customer journey and overall experience. For instance, in 2020, CLP replaced over 300,000 electric meters with ‘smart’ meters that use data analytics to monitor daily household consumption, which customers can track via CLP’s app. These are a few examples of how the application of modern technologies is transforming the various sectors of the power industry.
All of CLP’s programmes were oversubscribed with 745 students enrolling all in all. Of those who graduated, most received job offers or promotions while some opted to pursue further education in the engineering field.
As of December 2020, 89 students have graduated from the Certificate of Junior Electricians and the Professional Diploma in Power Engineering Programmes. Indeed, all of CLP’s programmes were oversubscribed with 745 students enrolling all in all. Of those who graduated, most received job offers or promotions while some opted to pursue further education in the engineering field. This ultimately represents the impact and success that the CLP Power Academy has had and will continue to have in creating new opportunities for young adults in Hong Kong’s power industry.
As CLP looks to move towards greener power generation in the future, they will continue to develop more engineering programmes to further raise industry standards and nurture the talent needed for Hong Kong’s sustainable development and growth. Indeed, CLP is looking into potentially offering a PHD programme for students looking to specialise in certain fields of the power industry, which would subsequently enable a full pathway of courses from entry-level to dual masters.
CLP is also in touch with the relevant regulatory authorities in China in order to curate professional engineering and power diplomas that are equally recognised in China as well as in Hong Kong. This would provide individuals with the opportunity to take on engineering roles in CLP’s GBA business operations and learn new skills while potentially reducing training costs for CLP by enabling a more integrated workforce.
Greater Job Security and Satisfaction – Investment in upskilling workforce and provision of world-class facilities & technology creates a more inclusive and interesting working environment
Talent Incubation – Wide range of different professional qualifications and certifications creates a wider pool of skilled labour to draw from in the power industry
Professional Career Development – Certificates and Professional Diplomas provide various opportunities for career progression
Agile & Inclusive Workforce – Combination of academic theory and practical experience creates a more adept and agile workforce
Climate Transition – Building the talent pool for Hong Kong’s ability to mitigate and adapt to Climate Change
Reduced Training Costs and Resilient Workforce – Investment in new generation of talent via in-house facilities