BC Hydro beat the skills crunch
BC Hydro saw a potential skills shortage on the horizon.
“BC Hydro has about 6000 employees. About 40% are baby boomers who could retire in the next ten years,” says Lesley MacDonald, who manages the diversity portfolio for the crown corporation.
“The boomers will be retiring right at the same time as BC Hydro will be taking on huge, complex new projects. So we have to be proactive, or we’ll be facing a serious skills shortage just down the road.”
That’s one of the reasons BC Hydro is tapping into BC’s immigrant talent pool, using strategies such as supporting foreign-trained workers in obtaining Canadian accreditation, by offering tutoring, coaching, and flexible work hours.
BC Hydro is also making hiring immigrants a priority because it wants a workforce that fully reflects the demographics of the province by 2017. MacDonald explains the business drivers behind that decision this way:
“Firstly, our research shows having people with different experience, backgrounds and perspectives working together on projects improves business results. Secondly, by having employees who really understand our customers because they have the same backgrounds, we get fabulous insight into our customers. Thirdly, we think it makes us a more attractive employer for both new Canadians and non-immigrants looking for a dynamic, creative work environment.”
MacDonald’s advice to other employers?
“As the economy recovers and the baby boomers retire, skill shortages will mean a very competitive talent market,” says MacDonald. “I’d advise employers think about creating an explicit strategy to include immigrant groups in their plans for business growth, ensuring they also adjust the organizational environment to ensure their success.”