NIC Electrician alum working on renewable energy solutions in BC

NIC Electrician Apprentice alumna Jamie Poole-Sing installs solar panels on an off-grid residential project on East Thurlow Island.

NIC Electrician Apprenticeship alumna Jamie Poole-Sing found her calling in renewable energy thanks to her trades training at NIC.

Becoming an electrician was always something that interested Poole-Sing, but it took time for her to make the jump to start her training.

“Electrical was a thought that crossed my mind in the tenth grade and I thought hey, that could be an interesting career choice,” she said. “I was originally going to study health care right out of high school, but, I chose to do some travelling around Europe, then came home and returned to work in banking.”

“I always knew it wasn’t the right fit for me,” she added. “I decided to go for it and I fell in love with it. After doing the foundation program, I knew it was a great choice.”

Poole-Sing credits her NIC instructors with making her training experience so successful.

“Lee Pollack was my teacher. He understands the trade inside and out and he’s a very knowledgeable individual,” said Poole-Sing. “As a student, it’s wonderful to see your teacher that committed to what they’re teaching – it really shows when you’re in the classroom and the shop.”

As Poole-Sing pursued her Red Seal, local company Hakai Energy Solutions came onto her radar. Hakai is a local electrical contractor that creates clean energy systems to reduce dependency on either hydro or diesel-generated electricity, while lowering energy costs. They specialize in solar and hybrid projects for residential, commercial and municipal properties. Recent projects include the new CVRD building in Courtenay, BC’s largest remote hybrid solar energy system on Harbledown Island and the Central Saanich Firehall.

“I’d heard about them and seen them around town while working with other electrical contractors as I was accumulating my apprenticeship hours. I was really impressed with the work they were doing, and that it was taking place locally here in the Comox Valley.”

After finishing her third year, Poole-Sing landed a position with Hakai to continue her apprenticeship. Shortly after being hired, she had the opportunity to work on the Harbledown Island project. The scope of work included the further building of an off-grid photovoltaic (PV) system in order to transition the First Nations community from diesel power.

“Over the past ten years, solar has moved from the highest priced energy source on the planet, to the lowest, which is creating a dramatic shift in the marketplace and in consumer perceptions,” says Jason Jackson, co-founder at Hakai Energy Solutions. “The sooner we build the local skills and capacity required to match this shift, which goes right to the foundations of our economy, the greater our chances will be to develop a BC-based solution.”

Day-to-day tasks included installing local grid tied PV arrays, service upgrades, and working with existing clients and their ongoing projects such as the Tula Foundation and Hakai Institute on Quadra and Calvert Island.

“It is truly a gift working with Hakai,” said Poole-Sing. “I love that renewable energy is the foundation this company is built upon.”

Poole-Sing describes her work with the company as an incredible opportunity that also showcases the range of work available in the electrical trade.

“It has been a fulfilling experience in terms of travelling, visiting remote places to install solar arrays, and general electrical work,” said Poole-Sing. “When people think of trades, they may think of working on houses or commercial construction, however, there’s a much wider range of work out there where you can apply your skills.”

Poole-Sing also hopes sharing her story will encourage more women to look at the trades as a career choice.

“I would love to see more women in the trade. I often wonder if women are discouraged from entering the trades based on the nature of the work environment and how it is still very male dominated,” said Poole-Sing. “Fortunately, I have witnessed an increase of women on job sites over the years and I hope that number continues to grow.”

NIC is offering Electrician Foundation Harmonized Certificate in both Campbell River and Port Alberni, starting in March.

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