The electrical and renewable energy sector is dramatically changing. According to the 2008 Labour Market Information Study (ESC, LMI 2008), based on employer estimates, 28.8% of the current electricity workforce is expected to retire between 2007 and 2012. The competition to replace these workers both from within Canada and abroad will be intense.
Electrical transmission and distribution infrastructure will witness significant upgrading and expansion in the next decade. In Ontario, this will be due to the need to replace aging infrastructure and well as to build out the system to accommodate new and more distributed forms of generation.
In addition, the sector will see more sophisticated approaches to energy management. This will be driven by a focus on conservation programmes at the level of the building structure and consumer demand. This will require a different kind labour force, one that is comfortable with a more holistic, multi-skilled approach that also balances technical and social competencies. In short, the electrical and renewable energy sector will need to proactively position itself to be able to fill significant labour shortage gaps with a new kind of worker. The CUSW is responding to this capacity building need with an initiative referred to as the Multi-Skilling Model.
goal and oBjeCtIves of the InItIatIve
The initial goal of the Multi-Skilling Model is to develop a collaborative plan of action focused on the identification of the training deliverables that will set the path for the trades person of yesterday to become the multi-skilled worker in the emerging market of tomorrow.
The objectives of the Multi-Skilling Model are twofold:
to provide workers with the pathway to gain the knowledge needed to participate in the emerging economy and
to provide a multi-skilled workforce that adds to the capacity of the industry when executing everything from systems expansion, manufacturing to independent projects. The achievement of objectives will bring operational flexibility and resilience to the emerging markets. In turn, the multi-skilled worker will continually add value to their own working lives as they follow this journey to knowledge.
understandIng the Context
In yesterday’s workplace, trades people generally specialized in their trade alone. The drive towards sustainability and a green economy means that today’s workplace requires a range of interconnected skills not only to allow joined-up thinking and doing on site, but also to make each worker more flexible, up-to-date in their skills and employability. Although the workplace has changed, many of the skills of the trades person are transferable to the emerging economy.
understandIng the oPPortunIty
a PICture of the future
An understanding of how this opportunity plays out can be portrayed at both the supply and demand levels.
At a systems or supply level in the energy sector. In Ontario, the Green Energy & Economy Act and the green energy projects entitled to connection have a direct impact on Ontario’s transmission and distribution systems. These systems, mostly untouched for many years, are now impacted by new technologies. The Smart Grid system is in the process of being developed and implemented. As the demand for systems expansion and green energy connections occurs, so does the need for multi-skilled workers. These workers will be highly valued as they will have a working knowledge of systems as a whole and provide resource flexibility to their employers.
At a local level or demand level in the energy sector: Designing and constructing an efficient building envelope will have a direct impact on mechanical system design; building intelligence and automation systems will require electricians and HVAC installers to coordinate their efforts; energy efficiency measures will need to be factored into construction, as will smart meters and building-integrated renewable energy systems. Therefore, having an understanding and working knowledge of these elements of the whole building will be increasingly critical in setting ever-higher standards.