The Canadian oil and gas industry’s faltering reputation is hurting its ability to attract the country’s youth despite the promise of six-figure salaries.
Canadian oil and gas professionals typically receive the fifth-most generous pay packages in the world behind their counterparts in Norway, Australia, Netherlands and New Zealand, according to a report published Tuesday by Hays Oil & Gas and Oil and Gas Job Search.
Average salaries in the Canadian oil and gas sector were about US$123,000 last year, significantly higher than the average Canadian salary of US$43,600. A third of the Canadian workforce can also expect bonuses, while 80% of employers expect to raise salaries by at least 5%, Hays data show.
That may sound like a sweet deal in an era of 7.2% unemployment in the country, but the oil and gas industry suffers from a perception problem as young people appear to be shunning the industry in favour of technology companies focused on social media and apps.
“If you look at the generation coming out of school these days, there is a lot of interest in industries perceived as being sexier. That’s where a lot of technology-minded individuals are moving,” said Jim Fearon, regional director at Hays Canada. “Also, Canada is very environmentally-focused and I do think it plays a part in peoples’ career choices.”
The trend of fewer young Canadians entering the oil and gas labour force is at odds with the rest of the world. Only 18% of the current Canadian oil and gas labour force is under 35, while that age group makes up 33% of the world’s oil and gas labour market, the report noted.
“Canada has too many older employees – 42% are between 35 and 49 years old, and another 40% are 50 years old and over.”
While the sector in most developed countries is facing the structural issue of ageing workforces, the problem is most pronounced in North America as Silicon Valley and smart technology companies absorb all the technical talent.
More than half of Canadian oil and gas companies cite skills shortages as a major issue, but 73% expect to increase hiring in the next 12 months, primarily due to the flood of oil and gas projects in the works.
Alberta oil sands production alone is set to double to 3.8 million over the next decade, while the liquefied natural gas projects will also require significant labour force.
“Labour shortages could put projects at risk,” said Christopher Smillie, senior advisor at the Ottawa-based Building and Construction Trades Department.
Direct employment in the oil sands sector alone is projected to increase by 71% or approximately 16,000 new jobs over the next decade, the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada said in a report published in April.
The stereotype surrounding trades jobs is also hurting the industry, says Jim Facette, president and CEO of Canadian Propane Association, which represents 375 member companies, including Shell Canada and Suncor Energy Inc.
“For a number of years we did a very good job of dissuading our young people from going into the trades business — if you didn’t go to university, you were deemed to be a failure,” Mr. Facette said.
Source: Financial Post
Six-figure salaries no draw as young workers shun Canada’s oil and gas sector for ‘sexier’ industries