A Strategy for Growth for Human Resources and Training in Renewable Electricity Sectors

The Renewing Futures research project aims to assess the capacity of Canada’s skilled workforce to meet the labour needs of the electricity-related renewable energy systems. The research project is a collaboration of Electricity Human Resources Canada (formerly the Electricity Sector Council), Employment and Social Development Canada, and industry stakeholders. Several documents from the project were released in November – the documents listed below are all free, but are mostly Executive summaries of priced reports.

A Technology Review report creates a profile of the seven technologies – wind, solar, bioenergy, geothermal, marine/tidal, small and large hydro, and transmission, storage and distribution. It also includes provincial energy market assessments that project renewable electricity capacity from 2011 to 2022.

The Labour Market Information System is based on a synthesis of 5 different models; it focuses on eighteen key occupations, grouped in three broad groups; leaders and managers, engineers and technologists, and skilled trades. In 2012, approximately 41,000 employees are estimated to work in renewable electricity jobs. The LMIS forecasts 3 different scenarios of growth: Utility case, Reference case (based on the National Energy Board 2011 Energy Supply and Demand Projections to 2035), and the most optimistic, the “Vision” case. The Vision case projects the creation of 620,000 person years of short term employment in manufacturing, construction and installation, and another 34,000 full time and long term operator jobs by 2022. Most of the jobs that are created are “good jobs” – high-skilled, well paid, with opportunities for advancement.

A National Human Resources Strategy for Renewable Electricity. Since even the Utility case rate of growth may result in labour shortages in the renewable electricity sector, the Human Resources Strategy proposes joint action by the employers, trainers, unions and governments to expand the breadth and depth of the skilled workforce. The strategy acknowledges that “Collaboration is not an obvious outcome”, noting the large number of small companies spread across the supply chain, many of whom are currently satisfied with their HR operations and who prefer to focus their attention on the challenges of government policy and business conditions. “The implementation of the any national strategy faces a significant challenge in convincing many employers that there is a problem to solve.”

The project also reviews post-secondary training and certification across Canada and makes recommendations for general and sector-specific initiatives. The Strategy document suggests changes to the education of professional engineers, including curriculum changes and increased co-op programs. The report identified 95 community colleges programs for engineering technicians and technologists, and commends this as an important beginning, but recommends bringing together unions, provincial labour market planners, college faculty and employers to consider new objectives, such as “new curriculum, registration targets, specializations related to sectors and to occupations. The latter content might target training in preparation for sales, design, project and cost management, construction estimation and other non-technical jobs.” Noting that there are no apprenticeship programs targeted to renewable electricity, the Strategy recommends a long-term goal of creating Red Seal trades specializing in Renewable Electricity, as well as national occupational standards, and certification to improve mobility across provinces.

LINKS:

Trends and Technology Review: Executive Summary is at: http://renewingfutures.ca/CMFiles//EHRCrfttr.pdf

Renewing Futures Labour Market Information System is at: http://renewingfutures.ca/CMFiles//EHRCrflmis.pdf

A National Human Resources Strategy for Renewable Electricity is at: http://www.renewingfutures.ca/CMFiles//EHRCrfs.pdf

Analysis of the Renewing Futures Employer Survey is at: http://www.renewingfutures.ca/CMFiles//RFES.pdf

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