Young Canadians on the cusp of stepping into the workforce have two key aspirations: to make a difference in their community and for the planet, and to secure a livable income. There is an urgent need to access careers that provide financial stability and a sense of significance and purpose.
In this pursuit, one industry stands out as a tried-and-true source of fulfillment: electricity. To delve deeper into the gratifying opportunities within the field, we spoke with the CEO of Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC), Michelle Branigan. She provides insight into the diverse roles available, the essential skills worth honing and the steps you can take to become a part of this growing industry.
Powering a future workforce
EHRC is working with employers and educators to build a world-class electricity workforce that will power Canada and create a clean economy for future generations.
“When you work in the electricity industry, you’re literally touching every aspect of how Canadians live, work and play. You’re keeping our hospitals, hockey rinks and smartphones powered up. You’re making a major impact on how people lead their lives every day.
Innovation in cleantech, including nuclear, and significant growth in renewable energy, like wind and solar, make this one of the most exciting times to work in electricity. We need younger minds to be part of these types of discussions,” says Branigan. The career options in electricity are vast and varied—and many are more thrilling than you might realize. We’re all familiar with the iconic powerline technician, but you could also find yourself scuba diving while performing safety checks on hydro dams or driving an ATV through the forest or even piloting a drone over a major transmission line.
From cybersecurity, AI, and electric vehicles to finance, legal, marketing, customer service and HR, the opportunities are enticing and rewarding. Hiring incentives for employers provide paid work placements for students, apprentices, workers transitioning from other industries and newcomers to Canada, among others.
What skills are most useful? Branigan asserts that focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is the best strategy for success in electricity.
She also emphasizes the importance of professional skills: “What’s going to set you apart? Communication skills. Being able to think critically. Problem-solving. These are all very important to employers.”
“I also encourage young people to visualize,” she advises. “Start thinking about how you’ll plan your career path as soon as you can. What education, certification, or experience will you need to get there?”
Investing in future leaders
EHRC has developed a mentoring platform, called Mentor Junction, that offers a range of resources and pairs learners with industry professionals to support their career development and success.
Electricity has long been a male-dominated industry, and Branigan notes that there is a significant opportunity to change this—and to diversify the sector as a whole. Mentorship is one way to support this change.
“We need to get more diverse talent from Indigenous communities, 2SLGBTQI+ and all genders, especially women involved. This means that as we build out the energy system for the next 50 years, it will represent the diversity that is Canada. People must see themselves reflected in these jobs, and have the support and encouragement from their teachers and parents to pursue this career path. We’re helping make this happen.”
As the electricity industry leans into its mission of adopting more clean technologies and building out Canada’s power grid two to three times its current size, Branigan is optimistic about the younger generation’s potential impact on the sector.
“People join the electricity industry because the work is meaningful,” she says. “They want to be here, making a difference in their communities. They’re not merely chasing the salary—although it’s still important. They’re saying, ‘This work means something to me.’”
“I’ve met some incredibly passionate young graduates working in our industry. Their focus and enthusiasm is inspiring. There’s tremendous excitement.”
This project has been funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program.