EPRI is creating a training roadmap as part of its GREAT with Data initiative to help fulfill skills requirements for the next generation of engineers and data scientists necessary to meet the needs of the future electric system. Moreover, this workforce must be capable of addressing the intersection of electric power systems and digital systems, commonly known as the merger of Operations Technology (OT) and Information technology (IT), or the so-called OT/IT merger. In particular, workforce will be capable of integrating high penetrations of solar and other DERs by collecting, transmitting, storing, securing, analyzing, interpreting, and making intelligent decisions from a wide range of data resources. Today’s utility engineering and data analytics experts lack certified specializations to help employers recruit and train a competent and qualified workforce to shape the digital grid of the future.

An effort to develop this workforce of the future will entail a combination of ingredients which recognize job classifications, develop the associated skills requirements for each job, match people to the positions, provide training to cover gaps in skill sets, and create metrics to measure readiness. These metrics are otherwise known as credentials, and serve to formally recognize that a person has achieved a demonstrated level of knowledge and/or skills. As part of the GREAT with Data training roadmap, EPRI is creating a credentialing framework and process to address workforce skills in four key technical areas: (1) data science, including descriptive, prescriptive, and predictive analytics, and machine learning; (2) cyber security; (3) information and communication technologies (ICT) including increased grid interoperability and standardization; and (4) integration of solar photovoltaic (PV) and other synergistic distributed energy resources (DER) such as energy storage, electric vehicles, demand response (DR), etc.

Terminology for GridEd’s Credentialing Framework and Processes

There are varying degrees of knowledge and skills requirements that companies use to qualify individuals for jobs within their organization. Further, there is ambiguity in the terminology used for qualification. For clarification, the following terminology has been adopted as part of GridEd’s credentialing framework and process.

A credential is an attestation of qualification, competence, or authority issued to an individual by a third party with a relevant or de facto authority or assumed competence to do so. Examples of a credential include diplomas, degrees, certifications, IDs, badges, passwords, user-names, keys, powers of attorney, etc.

  • A certificate is a piece of paper stating attendance in a class or passed an exam.
  • Learning objectives are a specified set of knowledge content that is central to the content of an instructional course.
  • A professional development hour (PDH) is recognition of attendance in a course with a defined agenda and technical content which is provided. There is no requirement for an assessment of knowledge gained through participation in the course and is the most elementary form of a credential.
  • A certificate of completion is a document that carries a recognition that the recipient has attended a course and passed an exam or some other measuring instrument that demonstrates a prescriptive knowledge level tied to the learning objectives of that course.
  • An advanced credential holds higher level requirements which could include holding certificates of completion for multiple courses in a related subject area, passing a standardized exam, or demonstrating sufficient work experience and on-the-job skill sets.

GridEd’s Credentialing Process for the GREAT with Data Initiative

GridEd is committed to providing participants of its professional training courses with the option of achieving two different levels of credentials as follows:

  1. Professional Development Hours (PDHs) will be provided to participants who satisfactorily attend a course. The number of PDHs eligible are provided based on the instructional time of delivery according to the course agenda. A participant must attend the full length of the course and submit an evaluation survey to receive the specified number of PDHs. No partial PDHs will be provided for attending part of a course.
  2. A Certificate of Completion will be provided to participants who satisfactorily attend a GridEd course and pass a learning assessment with a grade of 80% or greater. The learning assessment will be developed by the course instructor and will be tied to the stated learning objectives for each course offering. The certificate of completion will be an optional credential. Participants can qualify for a PDH without taking or passing the learning assessment.

Value of Credentials Survey

An opinion survey was issued to GridEd utility advisors and other interested industry participants to assess the value of credentials as a first step in GridEd’s credentialing framework and process. Survey responses were collected from twenty-two (22) participants whereby they provided input on the value of various levels of credentials from their personal perspective as well as their company’s perspective. It is common in some organizations that a higher-level credential is preferred or required over a simple PDH. However, other organizations limit requirements for credentials to certain jobs. The GridEd program strives to serve both perspectives by expanding its offerings to include a variety options to program participants.

Based on survey results which can be found here, the following conclusions are drawn:

  • It seems clear that there is value in differentiating between credentials for courses based on knowledge assessment and those based on participation.
  • Many companies do not value higher level credentials whereas others view them as very important.
  • Individual opinions favor higher level credentials more strongly than companies.
  • Feedback indicates that GridEd should pursue issuing higher level credentials.

Applying the Credential Process to a Job Specification

GridEd is committed to continue exploring the value of developing and issuing advanced credentials for various roles in the key focus areas of the GREAT with Data initiative. Initial feedback from utility advisors and other subject matter experts have indicated the potential value of advanced credentials in data science for the electric utility industry. Based on an initial exploration with electric industry professionals, two categories of jobs have emerged as a priority for advanced credentials. The two categories are:

  • Electric Utility Data Science “Leader”: This credential is for leaders, managers and decision makers who need to understand the potential value and risks in electric utility data analysis, artificial intelligence and machine learning projects for allocating resources and overseeing results from work in this area.
  • Electric Utility Data Science “Professional”: This credential is for technical personnel, such as electric utility engineers, IT personnel, or data scientists entering the electric utility industry, who need to become data science professionals for an electric utility.

A deeper description of the potential approach is provided here. A similar approach will be explored in the other three focus areas of the GREAT with Data initiative.