​5 charts show a decade of change in Canada’s oil and gas workforce

Rapid growth and sharp contractions in Canada’s oil and gas industry between 2006 and 2016 have transferred the industry’s workforce, according to a new report from PetroLMI.

During the 10-year period, the workforce employed directly by 15%, or 25,000 workers, to almost 190,000.

The workforce grew older — while representation of individuals 55 and over increased by 7 percent (to 17 percent for 10 percent), the share of workers under 25 declined by 8 percent (to 7 percent from 15 percent).

With the “last in, first out” youth workforce declining and the “grey wave” of baby boomers heading towards retirement, Canada’s oil and gas industry will be challenged to replace its workforce should a significant rebound in hiring occur, PetroLMI said.

“During the most recent downturn, many younger, less experienced workers were let go. Several employers interviewed for this report expressed concern about reversing these losses over the longer term,” said PetroLMI vice-president Carol Howes.

“There have already been skill shortages in oil and gas services — a sector that lost many young workers in the last three years. Going forward the industry will need to refocus on improving the overall work environment and culture to continue to attract and retain the best talent.”

The industry has made some strides in diversifying its workforce, Howes noted, but said there is an opportunity and a need for further improvement overall.

While the proportion of women remained steady at 22 percent over the period, the immigrants and non-permanent residents increased to 16 percent of the workforce from 12 percent, and visible minorities increased to 13 percent from 7%. The growth of workforce representation of Indigenous Peoples grew relatively slowly during the 10-year period, from 5.6 percent to 6.3 percent, which PetroLMI notes is still proportionately higher than other trade-intensive industries and the total Canadian workforce.