Go North young man?
The US may be struggling through a low-employment summer, as last week’s weak Job Report indicates. But north of the border the job situation is rosy, at least in the oil sector.
Despite continued economic uncertainty in Europe, the US, and China, and the depressed price of natural gas, Alberta’s energy sector is booming.
According to a report released last week by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada, 91% of the 37 oil and gas companies it surveyed are hiring, 7% up from a similar report in the last half of 2011.
The expansion of oil sands development and the shift to shale and other unconventional oil and gas plays (which Canada has in abundance) means that the industry is hungry for new employees to keep up with demand.
But here’s the rub. It is not general labor that is the primary need of Ensign Energy Services, Encana, Royal Dutch Shell and other companies which are cashing in on the boom times, it is oil workers with the technical skills and experience to safely operate heavy and increasingly sophisticated oil field equipment.
However, the cyclical nature of the work (often two to three months contracts) makes it hard to attract and retain skilled workers in the remote drilling sites found across the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin.
Consequently, recruitment agencies are looking to foreign workers to fill the void. According to the survey, 27% of responding companies reported hiring more international workers than in 2011. Some companies such as Ensign are also looking to engage its field workers long term, providing training to those who work for a couple of months on the drilling sites so that they can transition to different parts of a project once their initial job is completed.
Got oil field skills? Go North young man (and woman).