A Toronto Hydro worker uses a chainsaw to clear branches from around power lines on December

According to a report released by Electricity Human Resources Canada, the Canadian electricity sector needs to hire 20,000 new workers by 2022 or face a labor shortage.

Currently, there are over 107,000 people directly employed in the industry from generation to power delivery. This fast-aging workforce needs to be replaced.

“It’s extremely critical,” said Michelle Branigan, the CEO of the organization formed 15 years ago to address workforce concerns in the sector.

The industry will need to hire the equivalent of 20 percent of its existing workers over the next three years.

Michelle Branigan said the looming labor shortage presents “a risk with the reliability of Canada’s electricity grid.”

Less than 5 percent of electricity employees are under the age of 25, a figure well below the national average. The industry is not as diverse as Canada as a whole, with women accounting for only one in four employees and visible minorities just over one in 10.

The demand for new workers is complicated by the fact many of the jobs require substantial training.

“These people are not trained in like three months or six months and ready to hit the ground running,” said Branigan.

Most of the new workers will be needed to replace the aging workforce, but the industry is also expanding as demand for power grows.

The future workforce is also going to have to be more agile, able to work on renewable energy sources and digital technologies that are transforming the sector at a rate it has never before seen, said Branigan.

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