The aging of the baby boomer generation is presenting a problem for employers in the electrical industry, as many skilled engineers and electricians reach retirement age, but the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI) has a plan for retaining their knowledge and passing it along to the next generation. A new report from the organization outlines a practical process for capturing what’s called tacit knowledge, or the know-how people gain from doing a job for several years.

Drawing on research and field testing activities conducted in 2001, “Guidelines for Capturing Valuable Undocumented Knowledge from Energy Industry Personnel” characterizes techniques for eliciting valuable knowledge from experts, storing it in useful and accessible ways, and presenting it to less experienced workers in a manner that will help them perform routine tasks or take on difficult ones.

The report is a culmination of a three-year study by EPRI’s Strategic Human Performance Program to address growing concerns about workforce turnover and demographics within the energy industry. “After extended periods of employment within complex work environments, some staffers become irreplaceable – they know things others don’t and they can do things others can’t,” says Madeleine Gross, manager of the program. “With this project, we set out to address a critical question: When experts leave an organization – at the end of their shift, for vacation, or forever – how do we prevent their expertise from also walking out the door?”

For information on obtaining the report, contact Lew Hanes at EPRI lhanes@epri.com, or Madeleine Gross at mgross@epri.com.