As part of our Emerging Stronger economic agenda for Ontario, we are profiling businesses that are taking a leadership role in making the province the best place in the world to live, invest, and do business. In this week’s Emerging Stronger profile, we shine the light on a ground-breaking training partnership between Hydro Ottawa and Algonquin College that is attracting the next generation of highly-skilled talent to the electricity sector.
With a significant number of Ontarians set for retirement in the next twenty years, planning for the future—particularly in talent management—will be crucial for Ontario businesses. If businesses don’t plan appropriately, they will be facing a significant skills shortage.
The pressures of Ontario’s aging population are particularly acute for Hydro Ottawa. According to its own analysis, Hydro Ottawa could see the retirement of 42 percent of its overall workforce—and 47 percent of its trades and technical workforce—by 2023. This represents 8,015 years of skills of experience that will be lost to the company. Without a plan to replace this expertise, the sustainability of the business is in jeopardy.
In the face of this challenge, Hydro Ottawa has recognized that its own future—and the future of its industry—will depend on attracting the next generation of talent. It also recognized that this could be made possible through public-private partnership.
In 2011, Hydro Ottawa entered into a long-term partnership with Algonquin College to deliver a two-year Powerline Technician Diploma Program. This program, the first of its kind in Ontario, is designed to train students to become the next generation of highly skilled Powerline Technicians within the industry. Students graduate with a diploma, co-operative work experience, and work hours that can be accumulated towards an apprenticeship.
This collaboration is allowing Hydro Ottawa to proactively manage the challenges of an aging workforce by ensuring a steady supply of apprenticeship candidates to replace its retirees. The program is also helping to strengthen the talent landscape within the broader sector.
The Powerline Technician Diploma Program is in high demand: more than 300 individuals have applied each year since 2011 and that number is climbing annually. More than 50 students have graduated since the start of the program, and that number is expected to increase substantially in the next couple of years. Hydro Ottawa has hired ten apprentices from the program so far and expects to hire between four and six annually to meet its workforce demands.
Through the Powerline Technician Diploma Program, Hydro Ottawa is well-positioned to take on the challenge of passing crucial knowledge and skills from one generation of experienced Powerline Technicians onto the next. It will allow the company to deliver a high level of service to its customers in the midst of a rapidly changing environment.
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