Alberta veers toward labor shortages (again)
Commodity price uncertainty has not slowed hiring in the oil and gas sector
Fresh evidence that labor shortages are once again hitting Alberta’s resource-driven economy emerged today care of the Bank of Canada.
Nearly half, or 46 per cent, of 100 companies surveyed by the central bank in a quarterly poll of senior executives from across Canada said they would have either some or “significant” difficulty meeting an unexpected rise in demand because “suitable labor” is unavailable. That’s up from 39 per cent in the previous quarterly survey, released in April.
Reports of labor shortages are more prevalent in the West, the bank said in its Business Outlook Survey, released Monday. Smaller companies tied to the resource sector are particularly challenged, the bank said; 29 per cent of companies reported labor shortages, compared to 27 per cent in April.
Stuart Albion, president of AMEC-BDR in Calgary, said finding staff to operate thermal evaporators installed by his company for treating produced water at in situ, oil sands extraction sites is only half the story.
He’s got a more pressing challenge: “I can’t get people to design them,” he said in an interview last week.
Indeed, uncertainty over commodity prices (oil for August delivery was hovering at US$85 and change in New York this morning) has not slowed hiring in the oil and gas sector.
Oil sands production is forecast to top 3 million barrels per day by the end of this decade, and companies are once again jockeying to attract skilled talent.
Ninety-one per cent of respondents to a recent online poll of 37 companies conducted by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada said they were “actively” looking to fill vacant positions.
“This is a seven per cent increase from Q3/Q4 2011 and reflects increased hiring activity in certain petroleum industry sectors, and the direct impact of high turnover, retirements and changing demographics across the industry,” said Cheryl Knight, the council’s executive director, in a statement.
It also explains why Suncor Energy Inc. is seeking partnerships with Chinese companies to help meet its growth targets.