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Alberta’s energy sector ramps up hiring

31 October 2011
Skills shortage of 77,000 forecast for Alberta, Canada
A “perfect storm” is developing as Alberta’s baby boomers leave the workforce in unprecedented numbers, and the province’s buoyant oil and gas sector continues to ramp up hiring.

Elsbeth Mehrer, director of research, workforce and strategy for Calgary Economic Development, said Calgary business leaders cited the labour shortage as the biggest challenge facing them over the coming year, but the latest figures reveal a longer-term problem.

Over the next decade, the number of Alberta workers aged 55 and older is predicted to top more than a million – that’s about 25 per cent of the total workforce, according a recent report by the Alberta government.

By 2019, the province has also predicted a shortage of 77,000 people across all industries, in particular the burgeoning oil & gas sector that fuels Alberta’s economy and job growth.

Greg Stringham, vice-president with Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said he expected to see substantial growth in the sector, with increased oil production stemming from new advances in drilling technology.

"It's up by about 200,000 barrels a day in our forecast," says Stringham."That alone is pulling on the drilling rigs and support services and leading to a need for labour and manpower in that area."

Alberta's oilsands currently employ about 75,000 people (both directly and indirectly) and that figure is expected to shoot as high as 900,000 by 2035.

There are already signs in the north and northeast of the province that employers are struggling to fill labour shortages, with towns like Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Cold Lake and Lac Labiche hardest hit.

According to Statistics Canada, Alberta has created 97,700 jobs in the 12 months while the Calgary region has created 20,400. The province is expected to lead the nation in job growth over the next 20 years.

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