Electricity Human Resources Canada’s (EHRC’s) Powerline Technician Project directly addressed key human resources challenges in the recruitment, retention, and development of one of the most critical operational roles within the electricity industry: powerline technician.
The project resulted in two publicly available reports:
- The Powerline Technician Trade in Canada: Emerging Practices and Training Delivery Matrix Report
- Situational Analysis of the Powerline Trade in Canada Report
These reports include emerging practices in the areas of recruitment, retention and training; they identify gaps in the delivery of training for apprentices and experienced powerline technicians; and they provide strategies to mitigate HR challenges.
The Powerline Technician Trade in Canada: Emerging Practices and Training Delivery Matrix Report
EHRC completed a situation analysis of the Powerline Technician trade in 2008. Its objective was to enable industry partners to provide long-term, pro-active workforce development for the powerline trade. This was accomplished through an assessment of the current workforce, a needs/gap training assessment, and an assessment of working conditions based on in depth interviews. This was combined with an overview of regional and provincial differences in apprenticeship development.
The objective of this study was to create a repository of emerging practices in the areas of recruitment, retention, and training, and to identify gaps in the delivery of training both for apprentices and experienced Powerline Technicians. Findings include a nationally compiled matrix of training standards across all regions and provinces, which reflect training requirements, differences, and gaps in existing training standards, compared to the National Occupational Analysis. The training matrix approach provides a consistent way to ensure both existing employees and new hires are measured using the same yard stick.
- To increase apprentice enrollments in the Powerline Technician trade.
- To recruit additional candidates in the Powerline Technician trade.
- To invest in strategies to keep Powerline Technicians in their line of work.
- To implement the leading practices of Powerline Technicians.
Situational Analysis of the Powerline Trade in Canada
The report includes key findings and recommendations based on qualitative research. Qualitative research seeks insights through loosely structured methods such as observations and interviews; it focuses on the meanings and interpretations of the participants and aims for a complete, detailed description.
The conclusions in this report reflect the opinions expressed in the 135 qualitative in-depth interviews by 12 respondent groups in six clusters across the country. These clusters represent key influencers of the successful outcome of strategies for the powerline trade:
- Utilities, managers, and others who are familiar with challenges in the powerline trade;
- Powerline Technicians;
- Students, engineering, skilled trades, lapsed skilled trade workers, parents, new Canadians;
- Directors of Apprenticeship, training organization representatives;
- Committee members;
- Representatives from organizations responsible for Red Seal.
- That apprentice registrations for the Powerline Technician trade have grown since 2001;
- That the Powerline apprenticeship system is male dominated;
- That the number of employer sponsorships of Powerline Technician apprenticeships has risen;
- That the number of Journeypersons leaving or retiring from the trade has increased;
- That when analysed by region there are clear trends in the Powerline Technician trades across regions in Canada;
- That priorities and concerns for respondents in the powerline trade varied according to region;
- That regional difference ins the powerline trade confirm the need for extensive restructuring and consolidation of training an d assessment practices across provinces;
- That the characteristics of Powerline Technicians differ by level of experience;
- That the education and training criteria for the Powerline Technician trade vary according to region;
- That occupational standards of the Powerline Technician trade are inconsistent across Canada;
- That Red Seal certifications have grown dramatically since 2001.
A more detailed description of the research methodology employed can be found in Section 1 and Appendix A of the final report.