Energy sector skill shortages critical: report

Direct employment in the oil and gas sector could grow by 38,700 positions over the next decade, says a report issued on Thursday by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada.

Direct employment in the oil and gas sector could grow by 38,700 positions over the next decade, says a report issued on Thursday by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada.

The council said about 195,200 people worked in the industry last year, up 10 per cent from 2009. In a high-growth scenario, in which Canadian energy suppliers gain access to international markets, the figure is projected to jump 20 per cent, to 233,900, by 2022.

At the other extreme, with low growth in the industry, direct employment is expected to rise about nine per cent, to 213,500.

“But to achieve this workforce growth, the industry will actually need to find between 125,000 and 150,000 new workers by 2022,” said Cheryl Knight, executive director of the council. “This is because while the industry is growing, it will also be losing workers to retirements and turnover.”

In either scenario, said Knight, labour shortages can be expected.

“Skill shortages are critical and every sector will be affected,” she said.

In the case of the oil and gas services sector, between 37,700 and 47,900 new employees will be needed, said the Petroleum Human Resources Council report.

The oilsands sector will need 14,900 to 22,200 new employees, conventional exploration and production companies will require between 6,850 and 10,700 people, and in the pipelines sector the range will be 3,000 to 3,250 new workers.

Knight said a labour shortage in the energy sector would have a far-reaching impact.

“For every job created in our industry, three more are created in other areas of the economy,” she said. “Our report estimates that by 2022, the oil and gas industry will sustain between 900,000 and one million jobs across Canada.”

Nearly half of these will be indirect jobs in industries like construction, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, and about 30 per cent will be “induced” jobs driven by the spending and service needs of direct and indirect industry workers.

The report, entitled The Decade Ahead: Labour Market Outlook to 2022 for Canada’s Oil and Gas Industry, urges industry, government and educators to work together to address the situation.

“Connecting Canadians with available jobs should be a top priority,” said Knight. “But we also need to look at accessing labour in provinces with high unemployment; looking at under-employed groups, aboriginals, new grads, youth and new Canadians; enhancing mobility of transferable skills and qualifications; building more effective and efficient education, training and apprenticeship programs; and utilizing the temporary foreign worker and immigration programs where appropriate, such as for shorter-term assignments and industry-specific occupations.”

The report also recommends improving Canadian’s awareness of the energy sector literacy and the career opportunities it offers.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com