A recently-released report on the need for new employees in Canada’s electrical industry has some stakeholders highlighting the work that’s being done in Manitoba.

The study from not-for-profit Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC) was compiled over a two-year period, drawing on information from 140 stakeholders across the country. 

It projects that 20,500 new employees will be needed in the electrical industry by 2022 to keep the lights on, with the demand largely driven by a need to replace people who are retiring. 

EHRC CEO Michelle Branigan spoke with CTV News by phone, stressing the importance of filling jobs within the sector. 

“What is at stake? It’s the reliability and resiliency of the grid. Electricity permeates absolutely everything we do,” said Branigan. 

“We know very quickly when the power goes out, it’s felt very quickly a personal level.” 

The report also highlights a need for younger and more diverse employees: five per cent of the current labour force is under 25, five per cent is Indigenous and 26 per cent is female. 

Branigan said Manitoba’s data demonstrated a similar need, saying there are fewer workers under the age of 25 in Manitoba’s electrical sector than in all other industries. 

Both Red River College and the University of Manitoba have recruitment programs focused on bringing more women and Indigenous people into their institutions. 

The University of Manitoba does outreach in schools across the province and in many remote Indigenous Communities.

According to the University Office of Institutional Analysis, the number of women registered in undergraduate engineering programs increased by 160 per cent in the last ten years.

As of fall of 2018, over 17 per cent of students in electrical and computer engineering were women. 

Derek Kochenash is Red River College’s Dean of Skilled Trades and Tecnology. Kochenash told CTV News RRC is working to reduce stigma and build awareness, while providing people with a learning environment where they can feel safe. 

Manitoba Hydro is in a hiring freeze, but the corporation said new faces continue to come into its front-line workforce as employees retire, move or change careers.

Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen said the company is focused on recruitment that will reflect the diversity of Manitoba. 

“That means more women particularly in the trades and more Indigenous employees throughout the corporation," he said.