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Michelle Branigan, CEO, Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC)

It is accepted wisdom by C-suite leadership teams that the right talent must be in place at all organizational levels to meet operational, transformation and growth requirements.

Our new reality includes Canada’s declining population, demonstrated by the lowest fertility rate in our nation’s history (1). This is a global trend that is generating intense competition worldwide: talent sources are changing, and HR teams are adapting their strategies to fill critical skills and labour requirements.


Our sector is experiencing under-representation across diverse demographics, including those
under 25, women, Indigenous peoples, newcomers to Canada, 2SLGBTQI+ and persons with disabilities.

This presents challenges, as well as opportunities to tap into this unrealized potential for the long-term health of Canada’s electricity workforce. I have opted to focus on the first two population segments that are common across all categories—youth and women.

Talent recruitment and hiring categories can be examined and assessed in many ways. As the leading national research organization that generates the industry insights required for evidence-based talent strategies, EHRC teams transform data into practical solutions—informed by barriers/resistance and to create the opportunities that drive industry innovation and success.


The electricity sector in Canada is generating more opportunities for rewarding, in-demand careers in renewable energy and clean technologies as young employees are increasingly attracted to professions for a healthier planet.

And yet youth representation in the electricity industry remains chronically low. Only 7.6% of our total labour force is under 25 years of age (2), compared to an average of 13.8 % in all industries. Canada’s youth unemployment rate decreased to 10.30 percent in November (3), driving competition for young talent to new heights.

Many young people do not fully understand the benefits and breadth of available careers in our industry. While they very much support the big changes in play to address climate change and a zero carbon future—electric cars, renewable energy technology, etc., they do not connect these big vision actions with actual work opportunities in the electricity sector and all the career opportunities that exist beyond the iconic lineman or line woman.

EHRC is working to change this. Our Empowering Futures program is Canada’s student and first-year apprentice work placement initiative—it is instrumental for employers who are prioritizing youth and apprentices within their recruitment and hiring strategies.

For employers (and specifically for those holding the budget envelopes for recruitment costs) … eyes will light up at the prospect of receiving financial incentives of up to $10,000 for creating new work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities.

These financial incentives are designed to help employers address perceived recruitment and hiring concerns that are informed by EHRC’s continuous labour market research and ongoing consultations with industry stakeholders.

EHRC’s Empowering Futures program delivers tangible benefits to employers in the following ways:

  • Minimizes the financial barrier of hiring students or first-year apprentices.
  • Offsets risk by subsidizing costs.
  • Enables an employer to “try out” a new prospective worker before hiring.
  • Builds the talent pipeline and future workforce.

Electricity employers in generation, transmission and distribution have advised that students and apprentices are a tremendous resource and asset to their organizations. Their energy, open-mindedness and willingness to try are integral to organizational development, innovation and future growth.

In turn, students and apprentices rate the program as having increased their job readiness, knowledge and experience in their area of interest.

The overarching goal for this national initiative is to prepare Canadian students and apprentices for the future of work by equipping them with the experience, skills, and networks required for a successful transition from school or training to career decisions and employment.

The Empowering Futures program also provides access to additional EHRC high-value resources, including tailored Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training for employers, and Mentor Junction that helps facilitate mentorship and networking connections in the electricity sector.

Its proven success is based on collaborative partnerships between the business community, post-secondary institutions, and apprenticeship training facilities

Since the program launched in 2018, there have been more than 2,000 successful placements. Demand for this program is high—employers are encouraged to act now to take advantage of the remaining openings to be filled by April 2024. Electricity employers can apply today to access funding and resources through the Empowering Futures program.

As part of our ongoing commitment to efficient and streamlined processes, EHRC has launched Funding For Futures—a new intuitive and easy-to-use platform that takes users through a step-by-step application and documentation process in an interactive, web-based environment when applying, monitoring and managing their wage subsidy application.

And as school breaks approach for students, or if you have an aspiring apprentice in the family…make them aware of these incredible opportunities during conversations amid holiday gatherings. Visit Empowering Futures to learn more.


Building a safe, diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace continues to be the focus of many industry sector organizations.

As a male-dominated industry, women in electricity occupations across Canada are at higher risk to be sexually harassed in the workplace.

EHRC, with the support of the Department of Justice Canada and industry partners nationwide, has developed a new resource to assist in Building Gender-Based Harassment and Violence (GBHV) Free Workplace in Electricity.

This national initiative will inform employers about sexual harassment, including strategies to address and prevent it. It will remind employers and employees of laws, responsibilities, and rights to actively to prevent sexual harassment and respond to complaints appropriately. Supported by a set of educational tools fostering a respectful and harassment-free work environment, it will also include a framework to set a health and safety committee to improve sexual harassment policies and procedures

The resource is comprised of three components:

  • The Educational and Outreach Program includes a toolkit to assist in preventing and addressing GBHV, training modules and materials
  • Safe Space Mentoring Tool augments EHRC’s existing Mentor Junction and Connecting Women
  • Support Strategy and Framework helps electricity industry organizations respond to incidents in a manner that recognizes the experiences and needs of those affected by GBHV.

Seeking Industry Input—Offering An Advance “Preview” And The Opportunity to Shape Key Resources

The next project phase includes offering industry an advance “preview” opportunity to test and shape our professional resources.

This pilot phase will take place in January 2023, and offers the following options:

  • Reviewing and/or testing a resource(s) or tool(s) from the Toolkit;
  • Facilitating either one of the two training modules included in the Toolkit;
  • Participating in one of the two training modules hosted by EHRC.


 Pilot placements are filling up fast. Please contact Anita Gara, Project Manager ( to request your participation. Once finalized, these resources will be shared online.


As the national organization charged with empowering the people who power our world, EHRC is the enabler, research hub and convener helping industry meet their changing demographics challenges to secure Canada’s long-term electricity supply.

By offering the full HR life cycle of services and resources—from our competency framework that provides a present-day snapshot of industry skills and knowledge, to our national Job Board profiling rewarding industry careers—EHRC is the trusted HR partner that is building and fortifying our national electricity workforce, now and for our future.


[1] Presentation by Darrell Bricker, Ph.D., CEO, Ipsos Public Affairs during EHRC’s Agents of Change 2022 event

[2] Statistics Canada