Recharging our Workforce

Electricity Human Resources Canada’s (EHRC’s) 2008 Powering Up the Future Labour Market Information (LMI) study indicated that approximately 30 percent of the total workforce would be lost due to retirement by 2012. Consequently, the industry experienced a high intake of new employees over the following three to five years, employees who required training to fill the workforce gaps.

EHRC’s Training and Learning Development Project investigated the capacity of the electricity and renewable energy industry’s internal training function. The diagnostic ensured that the industry was prepared to meet the surge in workforce development needs. The main outcome of this project was a training capacity strategic framework: Recharging our Workforce, a report on industry action that contains:

  • recommended next steps for addressing training capacity needs;
  • the identity of required tools for addressing training capacity needs;
  • the identity of barriers to enhancing training capacity; and
  • practical strategies and initiatives for organizations and the overall sector to develop and manage training capacity.



One outcome of the Training and Learning Development (TLD) Project was the development of 10 recommendations for initiatives that EHRC could undertake to increase training capacity in the electricity sector. A points system was applied to create a score for the highest-rated, which captured the consensus opinion of a broad spectrum of electricity sector professionals. As an outcome of this exercise, the three highest-scoring recommendations are presented here as those that should be viewed as the highest priority for implementation:

  • To develop occupational standards for industry trainers
  • To develop a self-assessment tool to assess requirements for training staff
  • To promote collaboration among utilities

Training and Learning Development Project Methodology

The TLD Project was conducted through a variety of primary and secondary research techniques.

Literature Review

The project commenced with a literature review of training capacity best practices. Examining the internal training methods used in other Canadian sectors served as a foundation for the electricity and renewable sector to address the same labour shortages and training needs. More specifically, the findings of this literature review informed the criteria for the selection and development of six training profiles from within the electricity sector.

Training Profiles

While the literature review provided a snapshot of training-capacity management and training approaches within Canadian industry, the training profiles developed for the TLD project provide detailed descriptions of training methods currently used within the Canadian electricity sector to improve internal training capacity. To develop the training profiles, training representatives from 12 utilities and training organizations from across the country were interviewed via telephone to discuss their organizational approaches to training development, delivery and management. The information gathered within the interviews was used to develop organization-specific case studies available in the Recharging our Workforce report.

Online Survey

The Training Metrics survey was conducted to collect information from training managers and training directors regarding trainer qualifications and training capacity management within their organizations. The survey was open from November 8 to December 24, 2010 and garnered responses from 13 utilities from across the country as well as organizations within the solar energy sector.

Within the Training Metrics survey, respondents were asked to identify (from a list of options) challenges that they are currently facing in maintaining and/or enhancing their internal training capacity. The results are presented below.

  • Staffing: Identified as a challenge among 2%of survey respondents
  • Curriculum Development: Identified as a challenge among 5%of survey respondents
  • Facilities: Identified as a challenge among 5%of survey respondents
  • Obtaining Qualified Trainers: Identified as a challenge among 8%of survey respondents
  • Company focus: Identified as a challenge among 2%of survey respondents
  • Administration of Training: Identified as a challenge among 2%of survey respondents
  • Technology Advancements: Identified as a challenge among 2%of survey respondents
  • Funding: Identified as a challenge among 3%of survey respondents (both utilities and solar[1])
  • Aging Equipment: Identified as a challenge among 1%of survey respondents
  • Ability to Obtain Training Content: Identified as a challenge among 8%of survey respondents (both utilities and solar[2])

[1] Funding was identified as the most significant challenge to training by survey respondents from the solar energy sector.

[2] Ability to obtain training content was identified as the second most significant challenge to training by survey respondents from the solar energy sector.

Training Capacity Strategic Framework for Industry Action

The Recharging our Workforce report forms a strategic framework, which is the culmination of the TLD Project. It represents a means to ensure industry will be prepared to meet future workforce training and development needs. This framework:

  • outlines best practices for internal training capacity management;
  • presents current approaches to internal training;
  • identifies practical and tactical strategies for training capacity management within electrical organizations; and
  • recommends next steps for internal training capacity management within the industry.


This project could only be accomplished with the help and participation of numerous individuals and organizations who generously gave their time, expertise, and knowledge. For that reason, we would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the following individuals:

Training and Learning Development Project Steering Committee

  • John Sowagi-Chair, Manager, Leadership Training—Ontario Power Generation
  • Michelle Laurie, President—Local 258 IBEW
  • Simon Assouline, Chef, Efficience et qualité des travaux—Hydro-Québec
  • Bob Menard, Executive Managing Director—Power Workers’ Union Training
  • Paul Blanchard, Member, Canadian Engineering Qualification Board—Engineers Canada
  • Lori Pierson, Supervisor, Human Resources and Training—FortisBC, Inc.
  • Nathalie Couture, Analyst— Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
  • Henry Reiser, Dean, School of Technology, Energy and Apprenticeship—Lambton College
  • Jodi Engel, Manager, Organizational Development—Toronto Hydro-Electric Systems Limited
  • Michelle Branigan, Chief Executive Officer—Electricity Human Resources Canada
  • Wendy Farrington, Analyst—Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
  • Leigh-Anne Donovan, Project Coordinator—Electricity Human Resources Canada
  • Norm Fraser, Chief Operating Officer—Hydro Ottawa

Research consultants:

  • Bernadette Allen, CEO—The Competency Group
  • Wesley Johnston, Director, Policy and Research—Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA)
  • Tim Curley, Client Services Manager—The Competency Group

In addition, we would like to acknowledge the generous time and support of the employers, associations, educational institutions, unions and other key stakeholders who participated in this study.

Completion of this study was made possible through funding from the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program.