To address BC’s pending electricity workforce shortage, the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, in partnership with Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC), the Government of Canada’s Sector Council and B.C. industry partners, implemented the Bright Futures BC program. Bright Futures BC promotes careers in the electricity and renewables sector and provides young people with all the information they need to consider a future in the industry. If you are an educator hoping to encourage students to consider careers in electricity, you can download EHRC’s Bright Futures teaching guide.
Bright Futures BC was modeled after the TradeUp for Success program used in Ontario. The Power Workers’ Union, which manages TradeUp for Success, initiated this program, together with Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation and Bruce Power.
Energize Your Future
If you want to have a job where you make a positive difference; where there’s a real need for what you do; where you make top dollar; where you can live just about anywhere, and where there are plenty of opportunities; a job with a future, then think electric. Everyone depends on electricity: we all use it every day, and that’s not going to change. The electricity sector offers many kinds of careers with great pay and lots of room to advance. The Baby Boomer generation is retiring; this is leaving a big gap in the job market, which you can be there to fill. These retirees are ready to help you to understand all the ins and outs of your new job—and when they retire, you will be ready to advance.
What’s in it for me?
Each time you advance in career level your salary goes up and so does your level of responsibility: you will lead bigger teams and projects, tackling increasingly complex problems. BC’s Electricity sector is always on the lookout for talented people who aren’t afraid to meet the challenge.
- Respect: Electrical power is essential for people’s daily lives. In the electrical sector, there is never any doubt that your work serves a useful purpose: without you, everyone would be in the dark.
- Opportunity: You are unlikely to hear of massive layoffs in the electricity sector. That’s because electricity is a necessity, and because electricity is used everywhere you will never be stuck in one place. With the right training and experience, you can work all over Canada or anywhere the world.
- Choices: Are you good with your hands? A math whiz? A technology guru? A people person? No matter what your talents are, there’s work for you in the electricity sector. There is a wide variety of jobs in the sector and as the current workforce gets older the demand keeps growing.
- Reward: The electricity sector pays some of the best salaries in Canada. As you gain experience and move up to more senior positions, your pay will increase. Plus, if the skill set you have is a rare commodity, people will pay you more. If you’re in a situation where you need to start making money today, there are lots of opportunities for apprenticeships that allow you to earn while you learn.
Given the highly technical nature of the industry, most careers require specialized knowledge. This may come from on-the-job training or university and college degrees in fields such as electrical engineering or environmental science. Whatever your background, an understanding of the steps and equipment involved in the generation, transmission and distribution of electrical power is a must.
If you like to learn things by doing them, an apprenticeship is the way to go. Plus, one big bonus of apprenticeships is that you get paid while you’re learning: no need to rack up huge student debt in order to get a good job. On-the-job training counts for about 80% of apprenticeships while the other 20% involves classroom instruction at a community college or other training institution—this is how you connect your practical know-how with the theory behind it.
In Canada, engineering is a regulated profession, which means that by law no one can practise without a license from a provincial association. BC’s Engineers are licensed and regulated by Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia.
More than 40 Canadian universities offer accredited engineering programs and each one offers a range of options for specialization. Some schools offer co-op work placements that allow you to gain practical experience between semesters. If you’re considering an engineering co-op, your placement may be eligible for subsidies from EHRC.
People from a wide range of backgrounds find their way into project management. For example, if your area of expertise is computer science, you may be called upon to oversee the development of new information technology systems. If you have experience managing construction projects, you might find yourself in charge of building a new generation plant, substation or transmission line. Given the highly technical nature of the industry, many Project Managers in the electricity sector have a specialized engineering degree. Whatever your background, however, there is no substitute for the experience.
To learn more about potential career paths here are a few profiles for jobs that are of critical to the smooth operation of our electrical power system:
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What education level do I need in order to work for a public utility such as BC Hydro or BC Transmission Corp?
A: The education level required varies a great deal from job to job. For a more accurate picture, see the “What’s the commitment?” and “What do I need?” sections of each job profile in the 8 critical jobs section of this website.
Q: Is working in the electricity sector dangerous?
A: The electricity sector has an exemplary safety record and does its best to maintain the very safest work environment possible, however just as new drivers are the highest risk group for traffic accidents, young people starting out their careers are more prone to workplace mishaps. That’s why safety procedures and protocols are the first thing you learn about when starting a job in the electrical sector.
Q: If I’m in High School, how do I prepare for a career in electricity?
A: First, it’s important to keep as many doors open as possible by taking senior classes in math, physics and English. Other science courses such as chemistry can help, too. Some schools offer part-time Secondary School Apprenticeships, which would allow you to work with a tradesperson such as an electrician. This can be a great way to get your feet wet in an area of interest and learn about the tools of the trade.
Q: In which areas will companies be hiring?
A: With a hefty wave of baby boomer retirements, there will be openings in virtually every part of the industry. Also, given the strong commitment to energy conservation, there will be demand for related jobs, such as Energy Efficiency Evaluators or Smart Energy Systems Specialists.
Q: If I’ve worked in the electricity sector in another province, could I work in BC?
A: Depending on the type of work you did, your credentials would be recognized automatically (if you practice a Red Seal trade, for example) or you might have to pass an exam (in order, for example, to obtain your designation as a Professional Engineer in BC). In any case, the experience you gained elsewhere would serve you in good stead and would greatly increase your chances of getting hired.
EHRC would like to thank our partners, without which the Bright Futures BC project would not have been possible: