By Glenda McCarthy
CNA’s Powerline Technician program is just one example of how the college is using employing responsive training to meet industry demands. In the past year, the college has added this in demand program to two campuses.
St. Anthony campus is now on its third offering since September 2013. According to Campus Administrator Cecil Roberts, job prospects are quite good with many students being scooped up before they even finish the program.
“The demand is driven from the fact that there is so much attention being drawn to powerline technicians from Muskrat Falls,” Cecil says.
The Muskrat Falls project encompasses building more than 1,500 kilometres of transmission lines across some of the harshest landscapes in North America and constructing a hydroelectric facility that will power the province for more than 100 years.
With an average of 1,500 jobs required in more than 70 trades each year during the construction phase, the Muskrat Falls project will open doors for skilled workers in Newfoundland and Labrador and across the country.
“The demand for powerline technicians is going to be ongoing for quite a few years,” Cecil says. “Of course they are building a new powerline now, plus there is maintenance which needs to be completed on a continual basis. People think it’s just because of the Muskrat Falls project, but the occupation is going to be in demand for quite a few years yet.”
CNA anticipated the need for trained workers and increased program offerings.
“It’s put in place to increase the number of powerline technicians available to industry. We’re running the program at four campuses – Seal Cove, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, here in St. Anthony, and this year it started in Bay St. George.”
He says companies kept tabs on when the students would be graduating from the two offerings at St. Anthony campus last year.
“All through last year, when we started the program in St. Anthony, our instructors were getting calls from industry all the time wondering when our students were going to be finished – so there was interest shown in our students before they even graduated.”
The instructors have great contacts within industry, which is beneficial to the students.
“Employers are looking for our students and our students had jobs before they even graduated from the program.”
The transmission lines will cross the Strait of Belle Isle to Shoal Cove, which is an hour’s drive from St. Anthony campus. It will then make its way down the Northern Peninsula , branching off near Corner Brook towards St. John’s and will be re-routed through the Bottom Brook power station before heading towards Port aux Basques and then on to Nova Scotia.
“That’s one of the reasons we pursued the Powerline Technician program for St. Anthony in the beginning – its proximity to the transmission lines. It’s going to come in our area so we thought it would be a great opportunity to help train some people in this area and help them get into that trade,” Cecil says.
“As it turns out, our students are from all over the island and even Nova Scotia. It’s turned out really well and the fact that the transmission line is near St. Anthony has raised the occupational profile for this area quite a bit.”
In fact, Cecil says for the Sept. 2015 intake, St. Anthony campus already has applications from 12 high school students from the Northern Peninsula who will graduate in June.
“It seems like it is a popular program among the younger generation and there is definitely a demand for this program in this area, and for the graduates of the program. They will continue to be in demand and not just short term, but for long term.”