Five years ago Hydro One launched a partnership with Georgian College to promote careers in the utility sector and train more students to become the company’s future workforce. The partnership has been so successful that Hydro One announced it will continue the partnership with a second $750,000 investment in Georgian College’s School of Engineering Technology.
The funds support scholarships, curriculum development, co-op placements and equipment to enhance hands-on learning opportunities.
With up to 30 per cent of Hydro One’s workforce eligible to retire in the next five years, promoting careers in the utility sector is a timely initiative.
“The results are in from the first phase of this partnership and they are outstanding,” says Laura Formusa, President and CEO of Hydro One. “The four colleges have been very effective in attracting more students to their electrical programs, ensuring a stronger workforce for Hydro One and the entire utility sector. This is good news for the people of Ontario.”
- The Hydro One College Consortium consists of Georgian, Algonquin, Mohawk and Northern colleges. Each college will receive $750,000 in support of its electrical engineering programs and recruitment, over the term of this four-year partnership.
- Since the partnership began, Georgian has doubled the enrolment and graduation rates of its three-year Electrical Engineering Technology program and created a new two-year Electrical Engineering Technician program.
- A portion of Hydro One’s first investment supported the construction of the Centre for Sustainable Technologies at the Barrie Campus, which has increased Georgian’s capacity to about 200 students a year between the two programs.
“Our direct relationship with Hydro One is very appealing to students,” says Bob Emptage, Dean of Engineering Technology and Environmental Studies and Chair of the Hydro One College Consortium. “Our application rate has substantially increased over the past five years to the point where we now have a waiting list for these two programs.”
Emptage says one of the highlights of the partnership so far has been the interaction between students and senior representatives from Hydro One.
“Laura Formusa has taken time to meet with students on a couple of occasions. In 2008 she hosted a mentorship event for students where she and her senior staff discussed trends in the sector, what Hydro One looks for in future employees and then directly answered student questions.
“What a wonderful experience for our students to interact directly with the CEO of one of the province’s major employers,” says Emptage.
Students also receive hands-on learning through co-op placements at Hydro One. In 2011, Hydro One hired 56 Georgian co-op students, making the college a leader in co-op placements at the company.
In this second phase of the partnership, Georgian College will continue its student recruitment push, with a new focus on increasing the number of women and aboriginal people studying electrical engineering and subsequently joining the Hydro One workforce.
Hydro One will also work with Georgian faculty and students on applied research projects, to test new ideas it wants to bring to the marketplace.
“This is a great example of an innovative partnership that is at the heart of Georgian’s mission. It is helping us to strengthen our industry connections to advance student access and success,” says Emptage.
Formusa agrees that partnerships with colleges are an asset to her company.
“The colleges are able to implement curricula that meet the needs of our growing and evolving industry. Future applied research projects will help keep Ontario at the global forefront of smart grid technologies,” said Formusa.
Hydro One was awarded the 2008 Ontario Colleges Community/Corporate Partnership Award in recognition of its contribution to the advancement of Ontario’s college system. In the same year, it also won the Distinguished Partnership Award from Georgian College’s Board of Governors.