The energy sector will have two significant holes to fill as the baby boomers start retiring, according to a Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada report that was released on May 30.
The report, Canada’s Oil and Gas Labour Market Outlook to 2015, which suggests that the Canadian oil and gas industry will have to fill at least 9,500 jobs by that year, also indicates that retirements will play a big role in creating those open slots for new workers, but will also cause a knowledge gap that will be difficult to overcome.
“We’re seeing high demand for – and reduced supply of – skilled workers in specific occupations, many of which are unique to the oil and gas industry,” said Cheryl Knight, executive director and CEO of the Petroleum HR Council.
“Retirements are the greatest cause of this growing – and alarming – skill and experience gap,” she continued. “The technical capabilities and knowledge of retiring, experienced workers are just not easily replaced by new entrants.”
Low natural gas prices are expected to cost the industry approximately three per cent of its workforce over the next three years.
However, growth in certain operations, particularly a service sector that is expected to have 5,400 jobs to fill by 2015, should replace those lost jobs and actually increase hiring requirements, along with the retirements.
The depressed natural gas price environment is likely to have the biggest impact on the exploration and production side of the sector, which is anticipated to be the area where most skill and experience are lost, not to mention job opportunities.
Industry-specific occupations are a key area of concern.
Conversely, there could be a 29 per cent increase in oil sands sector employment compared to 2012, which translates to about 5,850 jobs, and there could also be an additional 530 jobs created in the pipeline sector.
Retirement of skilled and experienced personnel is an area of concern in those sectors as well.
“This is a complex labour story,” said Knight. “Hiring will increase, but total number of jobs will remain relatively flat. Certain sectors and operations will add jobs, while others will lose some positions.
“And employee turnover is the wild card that could have recruiters working to fill hundreds of additional job openings over the next four years.”