Improving Employment Equity to Power the Future of Alberta
July 4, 2019
A multi-stakeholder group including Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC), the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), TransAlta, Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE), the Ministry of Labour, education partners, and others are launching a new project aiming to develop a more inclusive and scalable labour force for Alberta’s electricity needs. The Support Equity and Under-Represented Groups project will address the under-representation of key groups in Albert’s electricity workforce and develop a strategy for inclusivity in sector workplaces.
Alberta’s electricity demands, particularly for renewable energy sources, have been growing steadily and are anticipated to continue increasing: with 13,000 workers in the sector as of 2018 (according to EHRC’s Labour Market Intelligence for Alberta’s Energy Sector—Workforce Transitions 2018 report). While demand has been growing, many groups are under-represented in the workforce: women make up just 30% of Alberta’s electricity labour force compared to 46% as the average across all other industries, Indigenous people only make up 3-8% of the Canadian workforce despite being the fastest growing population in Canada, and Canadians with disabilities make up only 1-2% of the national workforce. Newcomers and migrant workers are also a major contributor to Alberta’s energy sector: they provide an invaluable role in labour and will continue to do so. This project will provide actionable recommendations and enduring plans for employers to attract, retain, and provide a supportive workplace environment for these groups. Concurrently, this project will support attracting younger Albertans to the electricity workforce—workers under the age of 25 currently only account for 5% of the energy industry in Alberta, compared to 14% for all industries across the province.
“As Alberta works to improve the provincial economy and create jobs, we also need to focus on maintaining a highly skilled workforce to meet current and future demands of the energy industry. Our workforce is changing and it’s important to provide opportunities for Albertans of all backgrounds to contribute and succeed,” said Jason Copping, Minister of Labour and Immigration.
“As Alberta continues to be a major innovator in energy, it must also be an innovator in developing an engaged, skilled, and diverse workforce that meet the province’s energy needs,” said Michelle Branigan, CEO of EHRC. “The groups we see under-represented in Alberta’s electric workforce are an incredible opportunity to develop into skilled talent for the province’s energy future.”
The 18 month project which launched in February 2019 represents an investment of over $220,000 into research, consultation, resource development, education planning, and employer support. The outcomes will be a more diverse workforce, capable of meeting Alberta’s energy needs sustainably as the province continues to be a leader in energy development both in Canada and across the world.