By Peter Saunders
September 12, 2019 – Earlier this year, Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC) released its five-year Workforce in Motion: Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) Study, highlighting demographic trends and changes in the energy industry.
EHRC estimates the Canadian electricity sector employs 106,575 people across multiple occupations, including 37% in generation and 59% in distribution, and is the country’s largest employer of utility workers. Yet, it will need 20,500 new employees—equivalent to 20% of the current workforce—by 2022, more so to replace retirees (86%) than to meet expansion demand (14%), given current demographics skew toward mid-career workers, with 70% between the ages of 35 and 64, and the average age of retirement is low at 60. As such, the report is a call to action, with recommendations to address future needs.
Among the occupations that face skills shortages and will be most difficult to hire for in 2022, the report says, are power systems electricians and operators, electrical mechanics and power station operators, along with information and communications roles. New technologies are also changing how the industry generates, stores and distributes electricity, inspects and monitors assets, supports smart grids and mitigates cybersecurity threats. These issues call for cross-training between disciplines, covering skills for both legacy and ‘cutting-edge’ technologies.
EHRC emphasizes the importance of continued collaboration between industry, government and educational institutions to foster graduates with professional and non-technical skills alike, national standardization of college program requirements, more inclusive recruitment of talent from underrepresented groups, including women, Indigenous people, immigrants, visible minorities and people with disabilities, and especially greater representation of younger workers.
“The industry is facing a transformation in how we recruit and train the next generation,” says Michelle Branigan, EHRC’s CEO. “We need to get better at telling our story to young people. There is a lot of competition for them!”