Canada's oil sands to more than double its workforce over the next decade: Report

The Canadian oil sands will need to more than double its workforce over the next decade, as expansion projects create new positions and existing workers retire, says the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada.

The report, Oil Sands Labour Market Outlook to 2021, published on Friday, states that the sector will need 73% more workers while some oil sands operations and occupations are forecasted to add over 100% of their current workforce by 2021.

Alberta’s oil sands industry, which accounts for 15% of the country’s oil and gas industry, employed 20,000 people at the end of 2011.

“The oil sands sector entered 2012 with a healthy dose of optimism, with all indicators — notably stable oil prices and strong international investment – pointing to continued expansion,” said Cheryl Knight, Executive Director and CEO of the council. “Demand for more workers is being driven primarily by growth in the sector, however our research tells us that the supply of skilled workers remains very tight.”

Industry will also be challenged to manage workforce costs in an employee-driven labour market. Cost management — a key element of sustainability — will be another major business factor impacting the oil sands sector, said Oil Sands Labour Market Outlook to 2021. For example, companies are now hiring — rather than contracting out — project management and other construction-related occupations, in order to streamline the development of major capital projects.

The council will release a second outlook, Canada-wide Labour Market Outlook to 2015, on May 1, 2012.