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Powering the Energy Transition

Canada’s commitment to clean hydrogen is driving a ‘green collar’ revolution


With the world's most educated workforce, Canada is already well-placed to embark on its energy transition

A transformative source of energy, low-carbon hydrogen is central to Canada’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050. Not only does the fuel have the potential to create a CAD$50bn industry in Canada, but it will also drive economic growth while acting as a catalyst for what has been described as a ‘green collar’ revolution in the country’s job market.

“Climate action will be a cornerstone of our plan to support and create a million jobs across the country,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a speech to the Canadian Parliament in September 2020. “We can create good jobs today and a globally competitive economy not just next year, but in 2030, 2040 and beyond.”

Sources: Clean Energy Canada

The clean energy sector is predicted to be a major contributor of jobs to the Canadian economy by 2030

New clean energy jobs to the Canadian economy +208,700 2030 2022
New clean energy jobs to the Canadian economy 2022 2030 +208,700

With almost half a million people already employed in the oil and gas sector, Canada is well-placed to meet the demands these new industries will make upon its workforce. Approximately 60 per cent of Canada’s population has completed tertiary level education, the highest rate in the OECD. It also has 2.8 million STEM graduates, an estimated 80 per cent of whom stay in the country. But even with this abundance of educational riches, labour market demand is already outstripping supply.

Source: Invest in Canada

Canada has one of the world’s most highly educated workforce

STEM graduates in Canada 2.8mn Canada's adult population (aged 25 to 64) has completed a tertiary degree. 60%
STEM graduates in Canada 2.8mn Canada’s adult population (aged 25 to 64) has completed a tertiary degree. 60%
Mitacs has invested CAD$35mn in cleantech in the last fours years.

To meet the growing demand for skilled labour, federal and provincial governments across Canada are now investing heavily in skills and training. These efforts include:

  • The CAD$298mn Skills for Success Program, which will create 90,000 training roles for organisations working to upskill the workforce across the country at all levels
  • The CAD$225mn Future Skills initiative to encourage inclusive employment strategies
  • The CAD$55mn Community Workforce Development Program designed to identify employment and skills gaps
  • The CAD$35mn Canada Coal Transition Initiative (CCTI), which seeks to focus on skills development and economic diversification

It is also believed that 39,000 existing workers in the oil and gas sector already have a skills match with an alternative industry. “There has had to be a sudden influx of talent [into the hydrogen sector] and this new workforce faces a lot of demand,” says Ivette Vera Perez, Team Lead, Account Management, at Mitacs, a not-for-profit research and training organisation working with the Canadian government, industry and universities. She leads a team tasked with bringing top academic talent into business environments, as well as advising on innovation from product development to commercialisation.

Mitacs has invested CAD$35mn in cleantech in the last fours years.

“We need to follow a supply chain approach,” Perez explains. “We need to enable the whole supply chain from production to use and everything in between. Our core competency might be in one of those elements, but we need to understand every stage of the supply chain in order to develop a thriving hydrogen economy. No one can achieve this in isolation. We need to work collectively to get this industry going.”

Source: PitchBook

Provinces with the largest number of hydrogen and fuel cell companies in Canada

27 27 8 16 British Columbia Ontario Quebec Alberta
27 27 8 16 British Columbia Ontario Quebec Alberta

A company based in Canada that is already transforming its workforce is Cummins. Cummins, which acquired Mississauga-based Hydrogenics in 2019, is an industry leader in designing, manufacturing, building and installing industrial and commercial hydrogen generation, fuel cells and energy storage.

“As a global power leader, we recognise the opportunity hydrogen has to help decarbonise some of the world’s most difficult to abate sectors and we are committed to help fight the climate crisis,” said Amy Schmitz, Director of Human Resources for New Power at Cummins. “As our energy mix evolves, so too must our workforce. At Cummins, we’ve doubled our alternative power workforce in just two years by bringing in specific expertise, but also investing in development for our current talent where complementary, transferable skills exist.”

“At the core, we are searching for and cultivating diverse talent that thrives in an agile, innovative environment where challenging the status quo is celebrated,” Schmitz adds. “As we look to the future, continuing to build relationships with local universities and associations is a key component of our talent pipeline.”

Canada’s energy sector provides 900,000 direct and indirect jobs with the potential to be transferred over to hydrogen production.

The Government of Canada’s collective approach to identifying future employment needs and readying the country’s workforce is outlined in the 2021 People-Centred Just Transition Discussion Paper. With investments of CAD$4.4bn, Canada anticipates an increased demand in energy efficient tech and insulation that will have a trickle-down effect on jobs in construction, manufacturing, sales, clean technology and financial services.

“The transition to a cleaner future will bring new, dynamic opportunities across our labour force but also some challenges for those who will need to pivot to new jobs,” the paper states. “Canada can meet this challenge – Canadian workers and businesses have the expertise, determination and ingenuity needed to be world leaders in the global clean economy. The Government of Canada will partner with workers, communities, provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, businesses and stakeholders to create conditions for success.”

The time is now to invest in hydrogen in Canada.

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Canada’s energy sector provides 900,000 direct and indirect jobs with the potential to be transferred over to hydrogen production.

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