Grant to support training of 500 Spark Power electricians
The Ontario government has announced US $ 5.3 million in grants to train 500 electrical workers at emerging Ontario electrical contractor Spark Power.
The funding will provide free training to new and experienced Spark Power electricians, improve existing online, on-the-job, and in-classroom educational programs, and award scholarships to encourage youth to enter the field.
The program is expected to begin in August and will include training on electrical maintenance, power generation systems, and health and safety regulations for Spark employees and potential new hires.
Richard Jackson, President and CEO of Spark Power, stated during an online presentation on May 20 that the new program modernized learning techniques and tools such as virtual reality and augmented reality, webinars, cross-team training, job shadowing and contact with local high schools and schools will include post-secondary facilities.
“We have built a really great Ontario success story right out of Oakville, Ont. As the leading independent provider of our services in Ontario and North America, including renewable energy sources, we look forward to the future of energy and continue to provide our team with innovative learning opportunities, “said Jackson.
In addition to creating scholarships, Spark Power offers paid internships for cooperative students and apprentices to help them get started in their careers.
The pandemic emphasized the importance of developing and maintaining essential electricity distribution services. With the sector’s focus on continuous innovation, it is important to keep the flow of highly trained electricians and other trades flowing, Jackson said. This includes the recruitment of young people and the good training of existing employees.
“The Ontario government investment only enhances our ability to recruit and retain highly skilled workers across the province and beyond,” said Jackson. “At Spark, we know that trades is a diverse, evolving and exciting sector to work in.”
The project is being funded by the $ 115 million Ontario Skill Development Fund. More than 500 applications were received in the first month of the new fund, and a second round of applications is planned for later in 2021.
Founded in Ontario in 2011, Spark Power provides power, operations, maintenance and energy sustainability services to multiple sectors across North America. Annual sales for fiscal 2020 were $ 228.2 million.
Spark’s vice president of people and culture, Najlaa Rauf, said it was important for Spark to meet the expectations of potential recruits who are demanding a modern learning environment.
“From a skills development point of view, it is very important for us that people are given different areas and skills to learn both with the tools and in the classroom and online,” said Rauf.
Ontario Minister of Labor, Education and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, hosted the online event and noted that Spark reached out to his department months ago with the funding proposal. The province has allocated $ 1 billion to modernize the province’s specialty retail system and fill the skill gap in Ontario, McNaughton said.
The program is also in line with the provincial craft and apprenticeship system reforms introduced May 6 under the Craft Opportunity Act, McNaughton said. Legislation provides for a new Crown agency, Skilled Trades Ontario, to replace the Ontario College of Trades.
“They came to us with the idea of developing a modern training program for the electrical trade that would be safe and effective both during the pandemic and beyond,” the minister said. “We are excited to help this company prepare 500 employees for today’s jobs and attract and nurture the next generation of electricians.
“The government cannot do this work alone, but with the right partners we can really move mountains.”
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