Giving more groups the tools to join the clean energy trades.

As the demand for carpenters, electricians and other skilled trades increases, the shortage of skilled tradespeople in Canada is becoming a pressing challenge.

“The power grid we currently have isn’t going to be strong enough for what we’ll need, so the demand for electricians is constantly growing,” explains Wakenniosta Rosie Cooper, electrical apprentice.

Wakenniosta, who is originally from the Kanehsatà:ke Mohawk First Nation in Québec, didn’t always consider a career in the trades. Like many other women, she was discouraged at the idea of entering what has historically been a male-dominated industry.

After hearing about Electrical Joint Training Committee (EJTC)’s Alternate Pathways program, Wakenniosta decided it was a career that “just makes sense.”

“There’s a lot of opportunity out there, especially with the shift towards more sustainable technology like electric cars and solar panels,” she says.

Removing the barriers of entry.

With Vancity’s support, EJTC’s technical training programs are helping women – as well as youth, Indigenous and newcomer apprentices – develop the skills needed to have a successful career in the clean energy trade.

Since 2019, the EJTC has trained 250 apprentices in their solar awareness program, including 12% women and 14% Indigenous students – an increase of 8% and 10% from previous programs.

“It’s recognized that certain groups are underrepresented in the trades,” says EJTC Managing Director Phil Davis. “But folks across the board excel in trades – there’s no reason underrepresented groups can’t be successful like anyone else.”

Western Joint Electrical Training Society (JETS) Executive Director Adrien Livingston, who has worked in the trade for 15 years, hopes to change the assumption that trades aren’t a good option for everyone.

“I want to see the reputation of the trade change at the same rate it’s changing internally,” he says.​​​​​​​

Reaching net zero through equity and inclusion.

Like the EJTC, Western JETS’s programs offer wraparound supports for youth, women, Indigenous and newcomer apprentices, with the goal of training a highly skilled, future-ready workforce that reflects the communities they work in.

In 2022 Vancity formed a multi-year partnership with Western JETS to support career pathways in green energy fields such as hydroelectric and wind turbine maintenance, solar, micro-grid energy storage, conversion to heat pumps and geothermal technologies.

Since then, a total of 113 participants (mainly women, newcomers, and Indigenous people) have completed Western JETS’ program.


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