From left, powerline technician students Kelsey Cabral, 19, Mitchell Antsee, 19, and Brayden Martel, 19, practice their skills. The students are enrolled in their first year of the course

A partnership between Algonquin and Hydro Ottawa has been giving students a leg-up in getting into the trade since 2011.

The powerline technician program prepares students for work in the electrical power transmission and distribution industry through hands-on practical experience. The two-year course is held in-part on Hydro Ottawa facilities, in addition to time spent in the classroom at the college.

Program instructors bring a high level of expertise to the course as they tend to be retired Hydro workers looking to share their years’ of combined experience with the students. They are happy to see them succeed in the work yard as well as in their studies.

“The instructors are great, it’s a well put together course for sure,” said graduate of the powerline technician program, Brigham Nickerson, 23. “We got to do some practical down at Hydro Ottawa which was unbelievable. We were taught a lot of transferrable skills.”

Kelsey Cabral, 19, first-year powerline technician student and lone female in a class of 36 admits she was skeptical when she considered applying to the program. However, this did not change her decision over what course to go into since she says she has wanted a job at Hydro since she was 16.

“I’d like to get a job,” beams Cabral. “So far the course has been everything I hoped for and more. We’ve learned more, I think, in two months hands-on than a whole semester in class.”

With nearly half of the workforce at Hydro expected to retire in the next ten years, the boost in applicants looking to get into the trade is being greeted with loads of praise. Landing a secure trades-job has had 300 applicants show interest in the course in each of the last three years.

“We’ve hired ten of our 57 graduates of the program with 36 students enrolling each year,” said manager of training and development at Hydro Ottawa, Cindy Newell. “We like to generally hire on six students right after graduation.”

“We’re very proud of the partnership with Algonquin,” said Newell. “Right from school the students can be hired on as apprentices. As well, they gain transferrable skills to other trade work.”