Canadian Manufacturing

Oil and gas workers still mainly old white males despite diversity gains: study

by The Canadian Press   

Canadian Manufacturing
Human Resources Energy Oil & Gas

A new report from Petroleum Labour Market Information explores the demographic changes that have occurred in Canada's energy sector in recent years

CALGARY—A new study shows that Canada’s energy sector workforce became larger and more diverse from 2006 to 2016, but remains predominantly the domain of older, white men.

PetroLMI says the number of people directly employed in oil and gas grew by about 25,000 to almost 190,000 over a tumultuous decade that included booming growth due to record high oil prices and thousands of layoffs when prices crashed.

It says in a report that 17 per cent of the sector’s workers were 55 or older in 2016, up from 10 per cent in 2006, while the number of workers under 25 fell from 15 per cent to seven per cent.

The proportion of visible minorities nearly doubled, from seven per cent in 2006 to 13 per cent in 2016, but still well short of the overall Canadian proportion of 21 per cent.


The report says one thing that hasn’t changed much is the number of women in oil and gas, still at about 22 per cent, with most of those people working at office jobs in finance and administration.

PetroLMI says the proportion of Indigenous people in the industry grew slowly over the 10-year period from 5.6 per cent to 6.3 per cent—that’s higher than the 3.9 per cent in the overall Canadian workforce.

The number of energy workers with a university degree increased from 19 to 26 per cent.

“During the most recent downturn, many younger, less experienced workers were let go,” said Carol Howes, vice-president of the Petroleum Labour Market Information division of Energy Safety Canada (PetroLMI).

“Going forward the industry will need to refocus on improving the overall work environment and culture to continue to attract and retain the best talent.”


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