Thursday, March 26, 2009

Electricity Sector Offers Bright Future in B.C.


VICTORIA – The Province, in partnership with the Electricity Sector Council and other industry partners, is launching Bright Futures BC, a skilled labour career awareness program for the electricity industry, announced Blair Lekstrom, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

“British Columbia needs skilled workers to help ensure the continued growth of our energy sector,” said Lekstrom. “Bright Futures BC is one way British Columbia can develop a robust talent pool of electricity sector workers here at home to meet the industry’s needs in the years ahead.”

The electricity and renewable energy sector must overcome a variety of skills-training and labour challenges to ensure future growth. Over one-third of the skilled workers in British Columbia will be ready to retire in the next decade. It is estimated that, in 2009, 57 per cent of power systems operators will retire, with an additional 21 per cent retiring by 2012. Estimated retirement rates for civil engineering technicians are 11 per cent in 2009 and 15 per cent in 2012, and for civil engineers, they are 13 per cent and eight per cent, respectively.

Bright Futures BC “Energize Your Future” posters, lesson plans and electricity sector job descriptions will be distributed to all high schools in the province in March. The purpose of the program is to raise student awareness of the career opportunities available in the electricity sector and to encourage students to choose careers in this critical industry.

British Columbia has a wealth of post-secondary training to prepare youth for a career in the electrician or electrical engineering fields. For students pursuing a career as an electrician in the industrial sector, public post-secondary institutions offer apprenticeship technical training programs. The University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University and University of British Columbia offer undergraduate as well as graduate programs in electrical engineering.

The Bright Futures BC program and career kit was developed by the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources in partnership with the Electricity Sector Council, the Government of Canada’s Sector Council program and British Columbia industry partners including BC Hydro, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 258, BC Transmission Corporation, Fortis BC and Columbia Power Corporation. The program is modelled after the TradeUp for Success program, launched in Ontario in 2002, which resulted in more than 600,000 students, teachers and parents having face-to-face interaction with industry employees who attended career fairs and school events to talk about their work and promote careers in trades.

“Bright Futures BC is the first pilot project to adapt TradeUp for Success, and it has a potential to be equally successful,” said Catherine Cottingham, executive director and CEO of the Electricity Sector Council. “The program will help the industry address the potentially serious economic impacts of a loss of workers, through retirement, by informing students, parents and educators of electricity and renewable energy career opportunities in British Columbia. A program to develop a world-class electricity and renewable energy workforce for the future of the province.”

The Electricity Sector Council is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the Government of Canada with support from participating sector communities of business, labour organizations, educators and stakeholder associations. The council provides human resource and workplace development support to workers employed by the electricity and renewable energy industries and related cogeneration, energy efficiency, and manufacturing and service/consulting industries. Through its research and work with industry employers, the council is resolving issues such as recruiting and retraining workers, facilitating school-to-work transitions and developing sector and career awareness strategies.

Bright Futures BC supports the BC Energy Plan commitment to educate and inform young people about the opportunities in the province’s energy sector, attracting highly skilled workers and developing a robust talent pool of workers by providing ongoing training and development opportunities.

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