Sponsored by Electricity Human Resources Canada

Last winter, sparks flew at Elsipogtog and Sitansisk First Nations! Not just sparks of electricity, but sparks of inspiration and imagination as Indigenous youth participated in an innovative program designed to explore career possibilities in electricity and renewable energy.

This unique opportunity was facilitated by Workforce Warriors—an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to finding innovative solutions to increase capacity, resilience, leadership and sustainable careers for Indigenous Peoples. In partnership with New Brunswick Community College and Relay Education, Workforce Warriors leveraged the Discovering Potential Youth Internship and Training Program at Electricity Human Resources Canada to bring their Electrical/Renewables Skills-to-Work program to life for ten Indigenous youth.

Through the Discovering Potential program, employers and training organizations can access funding to build workplace skills or specific technical knowledge in young people to help them transition into careers in the industry. The program recognizes that there are many ways someone might gain experience and that the path from education to work isn’t always a straight one.

“Because of Discovering Potential, we were able to put these youth leaders out in front of an emerging sector with varied opportunities,” said Karen Gillam, founder and CEO of Workforce Warriors. “The classroom learning included fun, hands-on challenges that sparked an interest in renewable energy—this is a great time for young people, particularly Indigenous youth, to get experience in a field that is constantly changing and offers rewarding opportunities.”

Participants first completed technical training related to renewable energy and worked on their leadership development before exploring work placements at the solar project. While each participant came to the program with a different level of knowledge about electricity and renewables, they were united by their interest in being part of an exciting project and developing their workplace skills.

One participant was blown away by the training, noting that they “learned so many things to do with the electrical trade! The dos and don’ts, proper installation of electrical equipment and the Canadian electrical code.” They also remarked that they couldn’t wait to pursue more training through Workforce Warriors and move forward with their career in electricity.

While in the classroom, learners were also given the opportunity to take on special projects. Sierra Brooks, from Sitansisk First Nation, developed and filmed a safety video in collaboration with her mentor, an electrician journeyperson and safety expert.

In Canada’s changing energy landscape, skills needs are changing too. Electricity and renewable energy employers who are looking to build resilience in their companies can make great use of programs like Discovering Potential to equip their next-generation workforce with the skills the sector needs now and bridge them into employment through subsidized work placement opportunities.

More than ever, youth voices, perspectives and skills are critical to the future of Canada’s electricity sector. With Discovering Potential, employers can reach youth who may not be aware of the opportunities available to them, and inspire confidence to join a dynamic and highly-skilled industry.

For more information on how employers, training organizations, or universities and colleges can get involved, visit electricityhr.ca/discovering-potential.

Discovering Potential is funded in part by Natural Resources Canada’s Science and Technology Internship Program (STIP). STIP supports Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy by connecting youth and natural resources sector employers, and providing wage subsidies in order to build a diverse pool of workers qualified to advance positive environmental outcomes.

Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC) is a national non-profit that serves the human resources needs of Canada’s electricity sector. EHRC works with employers, educators, unions, government and other partners—bringing all parties together to create solutions that work.