Canada’s oil industry facing labour shortage: survey

Employers in Canada’s oil and gas companies share one concern with their global counterparts: skill shortages in the industry. A report from a worldwide recruiting agency says that skills shortages and a lack of young professionals entering the labour force threaten short- and long-term growth prospects for the industry in this country. The industry is otherwise optimistic about its future.

Canada’s workforce in the oil and gas industry is older than the rest of the world, and retiring workers are not being replaced fast enough, according to Hays Oil and Gas report on the world’s oil and gas industry.

According to the 2013 Oil and Gas Global Salary Guide from Hays Oil and Gas, more than half (54 per cent) of Canadian oil and gas employers cite “skills shortages” as a significant issue, and yet almost three-quarters (73 per cent) expect to increase hiring in the next twelve months. Globally, the problem of skills shortages outranks other industry concerns such as economic instability, environmental concerns, safety, immigration related problems, and security issues arising from social unrest.

Unlike other countries, Canada has the somewhat unique problem of an older labour force. Whereas in the rest of the world one-third of workers are under the age of 35, in Canada only 18 per cent of workers are in that age group. Put another way, Canada has “too many” older employees, with 82 per cent aged 35–50 and older.

A regional director of Hays Canada, Jim Fearon, said that the industry in Canada is watching its talent supply “dry up.” Many oil and gas employees are approaching retirement, and the industry is not attracting enough younger workers to replace them and address the skills shortages. This poses “major challenges” for the industry to meet its growth potential.

All job types in the industry are affected equally by the shortages, Hays Canada says: contractors, operators, oil field services, project managers, drilling engineers and estimators.

Industry optimism is high, however, with 76 per cent of survey respondents stating that they feel positive about the market in Canada.

Wages are competitive in Canada: oil and gas professionals earn on average $125,680 per annum, just above the USA at $124,000 equivalent. Australia leads with an average industry salary of CAD$167,160 per annum.

Most employers (77 per cent) expect to increase salaries from 5 per cent to more than 10 per cent in the next twelve months. And many Canadian oil and gas workers enjoy bonuses, a health plan, and a pension. Worldwide, 65 per cent of respondents to the survey receive some benefit or allowance above their base pay. Bonuses are, the report says, now the main way that companies use to attract employees.

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