Wanted: Creative solutions to a labor shortfall
Alberta needs more than a few good men
The forcecasts are not comforting for anyone in the oil and gas business. Tens of thousands of new workers will be needed to fill jobs that will be available if Canada goes from producing three million barrels of oil per day it does now to six million by 2030.
The labor conundrum is an enormous challenge, but solutions exist. I was reminded of that when I interviewed IROC Energy Services Corp. president and CEO Tom Alford recently. While acknowledging that labor is his industry’s biggest worry, he mentioned that IROC had success recruiting people from the armed services to work for the company.
“They’re trained. They’re disciplined. They’re the kind of people we’re looking for,” Alford said.
It’s that kind of thinking that will help the oil and gas industry sort through another labor shortage. And they will have to face it head-on because the industry is facing competition for skilled workers from jurisdictions across Canada and other parts of the globe who are also experiencing resource booms.
In this issue, our annual report on human resources examines the threats facing the oil and gas industry and the potential solutions to the labor issue. It is clear this problem – driven by demographic realities and a lack of focus on trades in our school systems – is not going away.
To fix it, the oil patch will require the kind of innovation and ingenuity it’s used for decades to get oil and gas out of the ground. The challenge might be different, but it’s no less critical to solve.
And while we’re on the subject of critical issues, health, safety and the environment is another focus of the August issue of Alberta Oil.
It certainly ties into the human resources topic because concerns about the sometimes-dangerous nature of oil and gas work, and the impact the industry has on the environment, make some people reluctant to pursue a career in it.
However, the work being done in the area of health, safety and the environment (HSE) could also be a draw for a generation of new workers that are tech savvy, and looking for a challenging career where they can make an impact.
Perhaps they can have an experience like Mike Miller, George Cannon and Mark Badick, who told us their stories about fighting the Kuwait oil fires in 1991 – the HSE sector’s finest hour.