Skip to content

BC Hydro hits high schools with information sessions on trades

BC Hydro has had a tough time keeping employees in the north.

BC Hydro has had a tough time keeping employees in the north.

In an effort to stem the bleeding of employees leaving to return to the Lower Mainland where many of them are from, the Crown Corporation began touring an information session at high schools in Chetwynd, Dawson Creek and Fort St. John this week, geared towards recruiting potential future employees.

The week of information sessions culminates in a trade fair at the Hudson’s Hope community centre 10310 Kyllo Street, Feb. 12, from 4 – 6 p.m.

“If we can hire people who are from smaller towns, they are more likely to want to get a job in those smaller towns if there are jobs available, and they are less likely to want to move away,” said​ Community Relations Manager Bob Gammer .

Gammer said a lot of companies, not just BC Hydro, find that once they’ve trained staff and have got them located in roles in the north, they move south after a few years often because that is where they are from.

“If we hire people from the north, there’s a better chance that they will stay in the north because of their family ties,” he explained.

In order to maintain the level of service provided, BC Hydro is gong to need a sustainable workforce for the north, Gammer said. “In a Human Resources context, it’s a very serious issue.”

Keith Maurer, a director of instruction with School District 59, said it’s all about exposing students to what is available.

“It’s our role to try and show what opportunities there are and ensure that we are trying to provide training for them to move down the direction that they’d like to take, whether that’s in a trades route or a university route. I think we have to do our best to keep the options open for them,” he said.

Maurer notes that this is not only important at the high school level.

“One of our focuses that we’ve brought in this year is to start working with elementary students, not trying to push them in any kind of particular direction but, just to help them understand a little more about working with your hands, developing things, or creating things,” Maurer said, “so that by the time the get to [high school] they’ve got that understanding behind them.”

One of these initiatives was the “try-a-trade” session, held at a recent Skills Canada competition at the Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek.

About 300 grade 7 students had a chance to sample trades while learning about jobs training offered at the college, ranging from hair styling and esthetics to aircraft maintenance.

Gammer says BC Hydro isn’t limiting their intake at the moment to any particular trade.

“We’re not being picky at this point,” he said. “We want everybody who is thinking about any kind of trade to know what we want from them.”

That includes electricians, power line technicians and protection and control technicians.

Gammer said the information sessions, and the trade fair itself is not tied to recruiting efforts for the Site C dam.

“I mean sure, could it provide a spin off benefit ultimately? I guess so. But this is coming locally from the regional manager of our generation facilities.”

Gammer later clarified that Site C recruiters would be present at the trade fair in Hudson’s Hope.

“They were invited to be there. There will be a booth. But as I said before, this is being driven by the regional manager of our existing facilities.”