Technology Shifts In Oil And Gas Industry Lead To Increased Need For Skilled, Knowledgeable Workers

CALGARY, Alta. -- The growing technical and business complexities of Canada's oil and gas industry, together with the need to remain competitive internationally, is driving demand for a more skilled and knowledgeable workforce, according to a report released by the Petroleum Labour Market Information (PetroLMI) Division of Enform.

The report, HR Trends and Insights: Shifting Priorities and a Shifting Workforce, examines three key business shifts that Canada's oil and gas industry has witnessed in recent years: new technologies designed to access harder-to-reach reserves, cost-management strategies intended to simultaneously improve returns and productivity, and the need to diversify into new and expanded markets.

"With these three significant shifts has come the need for new and more intricate skills as well as different occupational requirements," says Carol Howes, vice-president of Communications and PetroLMI, Enform.

"The worker of today is quite different than the one from a decade or more ago. New entrants need to be more familiar with technology of all types. Many of today's workers require business acumen and negotiating skills. And, with an increased focus on building new infrastructure, safety and environmental issues, comes requirements for more specialists such as those in well abandonment and reclamation, or stakeholder and Aboriginal relations."

The ability to tap into unconventional reserves using innovative technology has significantly altered the types of equipment, materials and services now required to support much of Canada's oil and gas development, according to the report. Likewise, the need to balance performance with cost reductions calls for more supply chain and logistics specialists as companies centralize supply chain management to realize economies of scale. Similarly, in its desire to reach new offshore markets, the industry will require a workforce with a new set of skills and knowledge in liquefied natural gas.

Many of today's oil and gas workers must be highly skilled at reading, numeracy, communicating and problem-solving. They may have to plan and execute projects of all sizes and understand the cost implications or the regulatory requirements, notes the report.

"There's no doubt that operating in today's oil and gas environment is extremely challenging. With signs of further cuts in capital spending and more layoffs looming, all eyes are focused on the oil and gas sector. But this isn't a new challenge, and if there is anything that industry has learned from previous downturns is that preparations for recovery can't be set aside," says Howes.

"The analysis presented in this report is intended for workforce and career planning and to provide insight that more accurately reflects the industry's new business environment," says Cameron MacGillivray, president and CEO of Enform. "As an industry that operates within a global market, it remains important that industry, government and educational institutions continue to examine what future workforce training and development is required in order to remain competitive."

HR Trends and Insights: Shifting Priorities and a Shifting Workforce is now available at no charge on PetroLMI's website,

Funded by the Government of Canada's Sectorial Initiatives Program, the opinions and interpretations in this report are those of PetroLMI and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.

The Petroleum Labour Market Information (PetroLMI) Division of Enform (formerly the Petroleum Human Resources Council) is a leading resource for labour market information and trends in the Canadian petroleum industry. PetroLMI specializes in providing petroleum labour market data, analysis and insights, as well as occupation profiles and other resources for workforce and career planning.


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