Boosting the national economy -- Wind jobs and revenues

Canada's fast-growing wind energy industry contributed C$736 million to the country's economy in 2005, up nearly 70% from the year before. "That figure on its own provides a clear indication the wind industry is starting to make its presence felt," says Sean Whittaker of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), which commissioned the survey. "And with growth expectations we're confident it will soon break the billion-dollar mark and the industry will begin to be a substantial contributor to the Canadian economy."

Insightrix Research of Saskatoon conducted the survey in February, receiving responses from 83% of CanWEA's 210 corporate members who were asked to provide breakdowns of their total expenditures, top ten expenditure items, payroll expenditures, number of employees, and revenues. From the data, Insightrix estimated total revenues, which were not reported in the 2004 survey, for the industry of C$548 million. Total expenditures in 2005 were C$482 million, up 22% from 2004. "The trend appears likely to continue in the future as respondents are generally optimistic for future growth, anticipating 80% to 100% increases in expenditures and revenues, respectively, in the next 12 months," says Insightrix.

Increase in jobs

This year's survey added a series of questions on employment and job creation. The results showed a "fairly remarkable" increase in the number of jobs in the Canadian wind industry, rising to 1200 full-time equivalent positions in 2005 from 720 in 2004. "That is an increase of 65%, which is very dramatic," says Whittaker.

The companies surveyed expect there will be a total of 5300 full-time equivalent jobs in the wind industry in 2011. "And it is very interesting to note where they expect those increases to take place. Respondents expect a sevenfold increase in the number of trades people that they will employ," says Whittaker.

But the results also show the companies have the least amount of confidence in training for the trades, with just 55% indicating it is adequate. The figure, says Whittaker, reflects an interest in seeing more wind-specific training, which so far is only provided at one college in Canada.

"What we'd like to do is outline what that training should look like and take it to educational institutions and provincial ministries of education," he says. "We have a committee working in this direction. It's a big job, but now when people ask why they should invest in training programs for wind we have some substantial numbers to share with them."

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