Queensland premier Peter Beattie and energy minister John Mickel met the first intake of 40 new apprentices to the utility’s Rocklea technical training centre, and flagged another 42 apprentices later this year.
"This year, Energex is recruiting 22 more apprentices than it hired in 2004. The overall figure surpasses previous years where the average intake was about 30 apprentices each year," Beattie said.
"The apprentices are joining the industry at a vital time. Energex is rebuilding and upgrading its network to ensure it meets the rising demand for electricity being driven by population and economic growth.
"These newest Energex workers will learn vital skills and will become qualified electrical fitter-mechanics, cable jointers or linies."
This recruitment push was part of Energex's response to the Somerville report, which said apprentice intakes had been too low for too long, leading to a shortage of experienced workers.
Mickel said Energex was further responding to the independent review by hiring about 20 new technical staff every month with the aim of building its south-east Queensland field and technical workforce.
The recruits include apprentices, tradespeople, professional engineers and associated managers and Energex aims to lift the field and technical workforce by a further 23% in the next 18 months, from 1530 to 1890 in south-east Queensland.
The additional workers include qualified electrical tradespeople from other industries who join an established 12-month training pathway to achieve dual certification and licensing as linespersons and cable jointers.
Mickel said the new apprentices would help build and maintain a stronger power distribution network in south-east Queensland, improving reliability, and quickly restoring power when interruptions did occur.
Mickel said the international shortage of qualified power engineers and technical staff made apprenticeship programs very important for workforce renewal and capability.
The new apprentices will later this year take up positions in each of Energex's main district works depots located at Geebung (Metro North), Greenslopes (Metro South), Southport (South Coast), Maroochydore (North Coast) and Raceview (Western.)