Canadian Manufacturing

To stay competitive, Canada’s oil and gas industry needs more skilled workers, report says

New technologies, markets requiring workers with diverse skill-sets

CALGARY—The current climate in Canada’s energy industry, with mounting pressure on companies to increase productivity while cutting costs is driving a growing demand for a more skilled and knowledgeable workforce, according to a recent report released by Enform’s Petroleum Labour Market Information division.

The report examines three key business shifts in Canada’s oil and gas industry, including new technologies designed to access harder-to-reach reserves, cost-management strategies intended to simultaneously improve returns and productivity, and the need to diversify into new and expanded markets.

“With these three significant shifts has come the need for new and more intricate skills as well as different occupational requirements,” Carol Howes, vice-president of communications and PetroLMI at Enform, said. “The worker of today is quite different than the one from a decade or more ago. New entrants need to be more familiar with technology of all types.”

“Many of today’s workers require business acumen and negotiating skills. And, with an increased focus on building new infrastructure, safety and environmental issues, comes requirements for more specialists such as those in well abandonment and reclamation, or stakeholder and Aboriginal relations,” she added.

Because innovative technology and novel equipment have kept the industry in constant flux as companies search for ways to tap unconventional reserves, new materials, services and personnel are a consistent sector requirement. The report also points to companies’ need to balance performance with cost reductions and bring on supply chain and logistics specialists. Similarly, reaching new offshore markets requires workers with an entirely different set of skills.

“Many of today’s oil and gas workers must be highly skilled at reading, numeracy, communicating and problem-solving. They may have to plan and execute projects of all sizes and understand the cost implications or the regulatory requirements,” the report says.

“There’s no doubt that operating in today’s oil and gas environment is extremely challenging,” Howes added. “With signs of further cuts in capital spending and more layoffs looming, all eyes are focused on the oil and gas sector. But this isn’t a new challenge, and if there is anything that industry has learned from previous downturns is that preparations for recovery can’t be set aside.”

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