Intelligence for the electricity sector – today, and especially tomorrow
June 6, 2023 | By Anthony Capkun
Labour market research for electricity sector perhaps more important than ever
June 6, 2023 – The ability to forecast labour supply and demand is not only crucial to industry, but to policymakers and educators, as well. It is also important for career-mapping by job seekers looking to enter the electricity sector.
It’s hard to believe, but Electricity Human Resources Canada has been researching and publishing Labour Market Intelligence reports for the electricity sector for nearly 20 years. With the massive transformation facing the sector in the coming years, the next LMI report is perhaps more important than ever before.
EHRC’s research provides about as real-time labour market intelligence as you can get, thereby increasing industry’s ability to source, recruit, onboard, and retain skilled workers to meet current and anticipated demand.
In fact, EHRC’s Labour Market Intelligence expertise is the only source of such detailed industry data, as it greatly expands upon the general information available through traditional sources (e.g. Statistics Canada) to generate a custom snapshot of our industry—both nationally and provincially.
So what kind of information can be found in these reports, and how does the research inform human resource decisions?
“For our next LMI iteration, I’m really interested to see whether the retirement numbers have changed,” says Michelle Branigan, EHRC’s CEO. “Back in 2008, the average age of retirement in the electricity sector was 58. However, by 2017, that number snuck up to around 61. So I’m really anxious to see what is going on from a retirement perspective in the sector.”
That’s just one example. As EHRC works on its next LMI report, Branigan knows the effects—and after-effects—of the pandemic will have had a big impact in the sector’s labour.
“Some people decided to retire early, but we also have inflationary pressures, which sometimes means people decide to stay on longer. I’m hearing that lots of tradespeople are retiring, but all of this is just anecdotal evidence. We know we’re in a tight labour market, but what does the real data actually tell us?”
Consider the overwhelming transformation facing the electricity sector, which is going to see new types of work and jobs as energy policies and technologies evolve (e.g. new nuclear, energy storage, electric vehicle integration, etc.) as we push ahead to net-zero by 2050. Branigan rightly asks “What does all this mean from a labour force perspective?”.
EHRC’s LMI reports provide the kinds of information that employers need to see what is going on across the sector when it comes to labour, because all of this transitioning will require workers—and likely employers, too—with new and possibly different skill sets and knowledge. Who will be responsible for all this upskilling?
“There’s responsibility on the employer to ensure they are identifying the critical skills and competencies they are going to need to run their businesses,” Branigan says. Employers must ensure they are attracting the right people and training and/or upskilling them for successful careers because “recruitment costs are expensive, especially in a very tight labour market, so you want to both attract and retain them”.
“Where are we going to find our talent? What are our vacancy rates right now? I can tell you, for the majority of businesses in the electricity sector, vacancy rates are higher than they have ever been,” Branigan says.
From the perspective of an educator, she says the LMIs provide a “line of sight as to the jobs that are under pressure, and the jobs that employers are looking to fill”.
“It gives [educators] an opportunity to make sure they are developing or adapting the curricula they deliver to support careers in the electricity sector,” she says, adding that you don’t want post-secondary institutions offering training for work that is being sunsetted.
For these reasons, Branigan feels EHRC’s upcoming LMI report “is probably going to be one of the most important LMI reports that we have done”.
HELP THE CAUSE – REAP THE REWARDS
Before any intelligence can be gleaned and subsequently shared, data needs to be collected… and that’s where we come in.
EHRC’s next Labour Market Intelligence survey is now online. Both employers and educators are strongly urged to complete this survey before the June 30 deadline.
Electricity Sector EMPLOYERS… please complete the EMPLOYER SURVEY, which which will gather information about things like number of employees by occupation, and areas of expected employment growth. It will also explore key human resource issues such as expected future retirements, current vacancies, separation rates, recruitment plans, diversity and age.
Electricity Sector EDUCATORS… please complete the EDUCATOR SURVEY.
EHRC will release its next LMI Study (2023-2028) this fall to provide the national and provincial market projections critical to short- and long-term workforce planning. The project is funded, in part, by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program.
“It is critical that we obtain input from as many stakeholders as possible to ensure accurate data and representation by everyone in our sector,” says EHRC.
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