Decades ago, science fiction writers imagined a time when we would have information at our fingertips and almost infinite power and knowledge in the palms of our hands.

Look around. That time is now.

From the blue glow of a computer monitor to the brilliant luminescence of bundled optic fibres, we live in a world of shimmering light, surrounded by the invisible power of electricity. We are living in the information and communications revolution. Those words are such media staples, that it's sometimes hard to take them seriously. However it's impossible to ignore how fast technological change is happening all around us and how it affects so much of our daily lives. Just over two decades ago, people laughed when Steve Wozniak, one of the creators of the Apple computer, said he would someday have his own home computer. Only 20 years ago, the idea that anyone but the mega-rich would own their own satellite TV dishes was utterly absurd.

Yet here we are.

We send e-mail with our home computers and our telephones and televisions are plugged into a data-, voice-, video-, and multimedia- communications systems that spans the globe. And new technologies emerge every day, enhancing and adding to the tools we already have. It's hard not to get the feeling that we are living in that gleaming, electric future imagined so long ago.

All of this activity has had a profound impact on the Canadian economy. As one of the world's most advanced industrial economies, Canada is a leader in high technology and telecommunications. Communications industries now account for almost $25 billion of the national economy, up from $12.4 billion fifteen years ago. In that same period, manufacturing electronic and electric products has grown from a $4.5 billion to a $10 billion industry.

The Canadian software development industry has been growing dramatically for the past decade. Not only have Canadian companies emerged as world leaders in fields like networking, security, cryptography, and computer graphics, but the demand for custom-designed software has risen just as quickly. Also adding to the growth are Canadian specialty television channels such as MuchMusic, TSN, and History Television, which have created a demand for trained broadcast technicians.

In fact, the deregulation of the telecommunications industry has not only created a far more competitive marketplace, but also a shortage of trained workers in the high technology and communications industries. This shortage has reached crisis proportions and left many companies scrambling to find qualified technicians and technologists. Jobs are being created faster than people are being trained to fill them.

That means that the areas of high technology, electronics, and communications are full of opportunities for new graduates. Making the picture even rosier is the fact that professionals in these fields are making excellent money. Companies are willing to do almost anything to recruit and retain skilled employees. More importantly, even though colleges and training programs are working to meet the demand, the job opportunities in Canada's high tech and communications industries are expected to keep growing well into the next century.

Related industries are also keeping pace. The information revolution has created an extremely competitive market that is "profoundly altering the electricity industry worldwide." Constant change is forcing producers of electrical power to reinvent themselves and develop new technologies to meet the changing needs of their customers, and to provide even greater service reliability than was ever thought possible. To meet the challenges of the next century, the business of producing and managing electricity has itself been altered by the technological revolution to which it supplies power.

In 1999, representatives of the electricity industry were quoted as saying that their field has "finally entered real-time, a state in which there is no time for planning, no time for decision review, only time to act now." The key is to find technicians and technologists willing to take this challenge to the front lines of the information revolution.

We have seen the future, and it is electric.