Opportunities for Indigenous Peoples are expanding in Canada’s oilpatch

In Canada’s oil and gas workforce, Indigenous Peoples are taking on a larger role, generating new opportunities through ownership, joint ventures and employment, contributing with investment, innovation and labour.

According to the latest numbers available, Indigenous Peoples represented 6.3% of the direct Canadian oil and gas industry workforce in 2016, or 11,900 oil and gas workers, mostly in the services sub-sector, followed by exploration and production and pipelines. Alberta’s oil sands operations have traditionally been a larger employer of Indigenous Peoples, purchasing products and services from almost 400 Indigenous businesses in 66 Alberta communities between 2015 and 2016, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).

Jobs are moving closer to home

Though Indigenous communities have not been spared the job losses that have occurred throughout the industry these past four years, there are growing job opportunities on the horizon as activity expands into areas home to large Indigenous populations. For instance, the Coastal GasLink pipeline that will connect natural gas fields in B.C.  to a planned LNG export terminal in Kitimat has already resulted in Indigenous businesses being awarded contracts valued at $620 million in contracting and employment, and another $175 million for work on the LNG export terminal.

To ensure Indigenous workers have the skills required to grow their careers in the oil and gas industry, some of the new education and training needs have been identified by industry and will need to be addressed. These include: more education and training in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); skills in information technology (IT) that range from basic computer skills through to programming and data management; project management skills; applying traditional and scientific knowledge to project planning, operations, environmental monitoring and reclamation work; and, administrative and managerial experience.

Indigenous Peoples embracing entrepreneurship

Increasingly, Indigenous Peoples are approaching the oil and gas industry as entrepreneurs. One example: Wapahki Energy Ltd. is proposing a safer way to transport bitumen from the oil sands by transforming it into pucks to ship by rail. Others, meanwhile, are taking a direct stake in major projects such as the Fort McKay First Nation and the Mikisew Cree First Nation, which purchased a 49% interest in an oil storage facility north of Fort McMurray.

For a deeper look at what careers are available in the oil and gas industry visit Career Explorer.

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