Prepare for the demand ahead

“Resilient – this industry is amazingly resilient,” says Cindy Hames, Director of Global Field Resources for Ensign Energy, when asked to describe Canada’s oil and gas industry.

Cindy grew up in the industry – and now, virtually every member of her family works in the oil and gas sector.

“As a family, we have a bond because we’re all in this industry together and we understand that it’s cyclical,” she says. “We don’t get too crazy when things are going well, and, we plan ahead for the inevitable downturns.”

Canada’s oil and gas industry is yet again faced with declining commodity prices. While companies may experience temporary setbacks, Canada’s oil and gas industry has seen this before and will persist continuing to plan for long-term growth over the next decade.

Tips for career planners

If you have industry experience, Cindy stresses the value of maintaining regular connection with your network and industry contacts.

“Staying actively connected with your industry network can keep your name at the top of potential employers’ minds when opportunities open up. Communicating through social networks, phone calls and face-to-face connections can help you stay on everyone’s radar,” suggests Cindy.

The skills developed in the oil and gas industry are transferable, and finding temporary employment in another industry could provide an income while also helping you stay physically and mentally strong.

Cindy emphasizes the benefits of keeping an open mind to work opportunities that take you out of your comfort zone. “New experiences can provide pay-forward effects because you will gain exposure to different skills and equipment, which could open up new opportunities as the economy recovers,” she says.”Our industry produces workers who are dedicated, hard-working and quick-thinking, making them a fit in a number of other sectors. Finding employment in areas such as logging, landscaping, firefighting, etc. can help you stay in top form so you are ready when things pick up in the oil and gas industry,” says Cindy.

Labour market outlook projects future demand for skilled workers

Even with the current drop in oil prices, the oil and gas industry in Canada is still predicted to face significant challenges in the availability of skills and talent due to an aging workforce and rapid technological innovation.

According to a 2013 PHR report, the industry is projected to lose approximately 45,000 baby-boomer workers to retirement over the next decade, from a base workforce of about 200,000.

The current slowdown may be an excellent time for workers to evaluate their education and work experience and continue to develop their skill base through training to prepare for the next wave of labour demand.

Many public and private institutions offer a variety of courses specific to oil and gas. Courses might include learning about the basics of the oil and gas industry, oil and gas safety training, certifications, degrees and diplomas.

PHR provides resources on the Careers in Oil + Gas website to help potential workers learn more about the education and training requirements for various occupations within the oil and gas sector.

“If you have an opportunity to participate in any training, don’t discount it,” warns Cindy. “Keep your mind open to new opportunities and take advantage of any training and skill development options that come your way. Any opportunity to upskill can provide a portal into new areas and increase your choices in the future.”In response to the projected demand for skilled labour, some companies plan to take advantage of the federal government’s Canada-Alberta Job Grant, which provides employers with funds for employee skill development and job training.

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