Hydro One (Toronto) has entered into a partnership with four Community Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology to attract and educate the future employees of the electricity transmission and distribution utility sector.

The company will contribute up to $3 million for scholarships, program development and equipment over four years to Algonquin College (Ottawa), Georgian College (Barrie), Mohawk College (Hamilton) and Northern College (Timmins) for programs that will train people as technicians, technologists and trades positions in the electricity sector.

"We are entering a period of significant demographic change in this company and in this sector," said Laura Formusa, Hydro One president and CEO. "Up to 30 per cent of our workforce is eligible for retirement in the next few years providing opportunities for people entering the workforce. Partnering with community colleges to train candidates for our trades is part of a comprehensive strategy to meet our staffing needs well into the future."

Hydro One has been conducting ambitious trades apprenticeship programs for several years. Since 2002, more than 560 people have been hired into apprentice jobs in power line technician, utility arborist, truck and coach technician and electrician trades.

In addition to scholarships and equipment donation, the multi-year initiative will include funding for curriculum development. The project will be managed by a Steering Committee with representatives from each of the four colleges and Hydro One. Funding levels will be determined at various stages throughout the project.