Training “tomorrow’s talent” for Quebec’s EV industry the focus at En Route 2024
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Workforce Development
Apr 3, 2024
Mehanaz Yakub

Propulsion Québec’s one-day event addressed themes of entrepreneurship, valuable employee traits, women in zero-emission transportation and training needs in the EV industry

Propulsion Québec’s one-day event addressed themes of entrepreneurship, valuable employee traits, women in zero-emission transportation and the EV sector’s greatest job needs and challenges. Photo: Electric Autonomy

Propulsion Québec’s one-day event addressed themes of entrepreneurship, valuable employee traits, women in zero-emission transportation and training needs in the EV industry

The move towards electric transportation is creating a demand for hundreds of new jobs in Quebec.

To help support and promote the job market in the province, Propulsion Québec, an industry group representing Quebec’s electric and intelligent transportation sector, organized its third “RDV En Route 2024” workforce recruitment event late last month.

The event, which took place at the Bonsecour Market in Old Montreal, brought together more than 40 employers, organizations, schools and students and graduates interested in careers in the industry.

Pierre Fitzgibbon, Quebec’s minister of Economy, Innovation, and Energy, was one of the marquee speakers.

“Quebec needs qualified people to make our energy transition a success,” said Fitzgibbon. “One of our major ambitions is to become the first carbon-neutral electorate by 2050. To achieve this, we clearly need to accelerate our transportation systems. We also need to develop innovative mobility solutions. We also need to mobilize workers who are motivated and resourceful.”

Prominent employers present at the event included Hydro-Québec, 7Gen, Astus, Lithion Technologie, Nova Bus, Cleo and Glencore.

“[This] trade show is the perfect opportunity to highlight the multiple career opportunities and professional opportunities available in our industry, whether in the design and manufacture of electric vehicles, in the development of charging solutions, in the management of intelligent transport networks or in research into emerging technologies,” said Michelle Llambias Meunier, president and CEO of Propulsion Québec.

“The importance of education and training cannot be underestimated. Professions linked to zero-emission transport and the battery industry require specialized skills that are constantly evolving. That’s why we need to invest in training tomorrow’s talent and skills matching.”

Startups and opportunities

Panelists shared personal anecdotes about the hurdles they encountered while launching their businesses in this field and strategies to overcome them.

“I don’t think that’s a subject we talk about very much…. [but] there’s not that much psychological support. I think entrepreneurs are often alone because they don’t have a team yet and they don’t necessarily have anyone to bounce ideas off,” said Sarah Houde, CEO of Milebox, a startup focused on manufacturing cargo e-bike solutions for last-mile deliveries.

Houde found support and guidance through accelerator and incubator programs for sustainable mobility. These programs often offer free resources on topics like financing, marketing and business intelligence, she said.

Panelists Frederic Bel, marketing and business development vice-president of 7Gen, and David Corbeil, CEO of RVE, both emphasized the importance of seeking feedback and asking for help.

“There’s a very benevolent ecosystem…in Canada around all this and lots of people are ready to help [because] there are a lot of people who really want the sector to succeed,” said Bel.

Corbeil also shared insights on the traits RVE values in potential candidates, citing communication, curiosity and a high capacity for skills development as optimum qualities.

Houde echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and attitude in a startup environment: “I’m looking for someone with whom I can share this entrepreneurial journey. Someone who can find solutions to challenges and celebrate collective successes. From that perspective where it’s nice to work with someone because they’re competent, committed, motivated, dedicated, curious and resourceful.”

Training the EV industry

Last November, Propulsion Québec collaborated with Élexpertise, the provincial sectoral committee for the workforce of the electrical and electronics industry, and Cégep de St-Jérôme to develop a comprehensive map outlining the training needs and emerging skills required for professions associated with the design and manufacturing of EVs.

“This study has enabled us to better identify the industry’s current needs, and to maintain our lead in positioning Quebec on the international scene,” said Llambias Meunier.

The study, presented at En Route 2024, found that the most sought-after professions in the zero-emission transportation sector included electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical technicians, mechanical technicians and assemblers.

Additionally, the study highlighted the need for enhanced training in several EV industry areas including high-voltage battery assembly, health and safety protocols for assembly processes and proper handling and storage of batteries. The study also recommended the need for more college programs in electrification in transportation and recommends adding supplementary courses to specific university programs.

“To ensure the growth of our industry in Quebec and elsewhere, it is essential to develop, train and support a skilled workforce. This means promoting our sector so that many students, graduates and current workers with versatile skills choose the electric and smart transportation (EST) sector for their career or transition,” said Llambias Meunier.

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