A Paradigm Shift

John Jefkins

June 25, 2020

By John Jefkins

In 2011, I started working in the electrical arena and quickly noticed that there was a high employee retention rate within the industry. Today, I regularly engage with Electro-Federation Canada members with 20, 30 and even 40 plus year tenures. Other industries I had worked in previously, such as telecommunications, had higher turnover rates.

Our industry faces an increasing need for talent, with new retirements and product/process innovations and modernization driving the need for specialized roles — some not even known yet.

There is a paradigm shift in electrical employers and student views of the industry. Paradigm is defined as changing how one thinks about something. Students realize the opportunities in our industry go beyond the standard electrical engineer, technologist, technician, contractor positions. The current pandemic is driving even more rapid organizational change, with many EFC members reengineering their way of doing business.

I have witnessed this shift while managing the EFC Scholarship Program. Since 2011, I’ve noticed a shift to broader student interest in careers beyond the traditional electrical roles. This has become even more evident this year.

The number of students applying to the 2020 EFC Scholarship Program has increased by 100%, with over 1,300 submissions. Reasons for this are beyond the financial component of the program, as many of the submissions I reviewed include clear and succinct career objectives. These are bright, young individuals who are looking to make a difference in our industry.

Applicants are passionately articulating their interest in joining the electrical industry in industrial distribution, sales, marketing, finance, human resources, supply chain/operations, logistics, data analytics, information technology, finance, and accounting. Many companies participating in the program are looking for these skills and areas of expertise too.

This paradigm shift is gaining momentum and changing the way companies are hiring and integrating talent into their organizations. The 2020 EFC Talent for an Emerging Workforce – 2020 Electrical Industry Research EFC Report research report, which will be released in September, indicates the need for our industry to elevate the role of Human Resources and empower this team with the skillsets required to strategize, shape and steer organizational development practices. The HR function is the key driver for talent management and must become a strategic partner in aligning talent requirements with organizational goals.*

Companies that succeed have embedded mentorship, employee growth strategies, corporate social responsibility programs and designations, such as “Great Place to Work,” in their cultures. To provide support in these areas, EFC has developed relationships with partners for member access.

Our Canadian universities and colleges are harvesting the future leaders in our industry. In September, EFC will announce the 2020 class of scholarship recipients.
In this dynamic changing environment, as companies re-engineer, pivot, innovate, define position needs combined with new work methods and new energized interests, more talent is positive news for the electrical community.

John Jefkins is VP Member Engagement & Corporate Partnerships, Electro-Federation Canada 

* Talent for an Emerging Workforce – 2020 Electrical Industry Research EFC Report (coming soon). Click here to register for the live webinar presentation, on September 10, with EFC and PwC: 

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