The current oil boom in Calgary is bringing unprecedented growth to the Canadian province of Alberta and with it a whole new skills shortage. As recently as May, the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada warned that Canada’s oil and gas industry needs to fill a minimum of 9,500 jobs by 2015.

oil and gas jobs in Alberta

The report quotes Cheryl Knight, Executive Director and CEO of the Petroleum HR Council emphasizing the specific skills shortage affecting oil and gas jobs in Alberta. A combination of employee turnover, retirements and competition from other industry sectors means that mining employers and mining recruitment agencies will be forced to seek alternative measures to fill hundreds of jobs.

It will therefore come as no surprise to learn that the latest survey carried out by the Petroleum HR Council in July revealed that 91% of the 37 oil and gas companies it surveyed are hiring. This represents an increase of 7% from a similar survey carried out at the end of 2011.

The Skills Gap

The challenge facing both employers and specialist mining recruitment agencies is the type of skills that are needed.

The major issues lie with the lack of oil workers with relevant technical skills. As the roles can be short-term positions of around two to three months employers are finding it difficult to attract workers to the booming industry- particularly those who live out of province. Mining recruitment agencies, in addition to recruiting expat workers into relevant FIFO jobs, are now actively considering the recruitment of migrant workers from overseas incentivized by relaxed government immigration policies.

Demand for Migrant Workers

The high demand for oil and gas jobs in Alberta has resulted in attention from around the world. Consequently the immigrant population of Calgary is growing faster than any Canadian city. In addition to the imminent skills shortage, an estimated 100,000 jobs will need to be filled in the next eight years.

The region’s population has risen by 37% to around 3.7m and the oil reserves are considered to be the largest outside the Middle East. This unprecedented expansion in oil and gas jobs in Alberta also means that the province is the third largest economy in Canada, hot on the heels of Quebec, which has twice the population.

Temporary Foreign Workers Scheme

Back in April we looked at immigration policies being put in place by countries such as Canada to attract overseas mining workers from recession hit areas like the Eurozone. The situation has evolved fairly rapidly since then.

The crisis affecting oil and gas jobs in Alberta has resulted in the Canadian government taking rapid measures to enable mining recruitment agencies and companies to recruit sufficient numbers of migrant workers to plug the skills gap. Last year’s pilot project for Temporary Foreign Workers was expanded in July this year to recruit the highly skilled foreign workers ‘on a temporary basis to fill short-term skills and labour needs when Canadians or permanent residents are unavailable’.

This new program allows temporary foreign workers to move freely between Alberta employers. In addition, it does not require any prior authorization from the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Employers and specialist mining recruitment agencies are being kept up-to-date of these changes.

Resources for Migrant Workers and Employers

The province of Alberta has a dedicated website for both employers and migrant workers seeking opportunities for oil and gas jobs in Alberta. Citizenship and Immigration Canada also offers detailed and up-to-date information for all migrant workers seeking employment in Canada.  It is estimated that, rather than taking months to process, job applications will now be processed more efficiently, and could take as little as thirty minutes.

Foreign workers and expat mining professionals can also seek advice on the opportunities available and the entry requirements required from a specialist mining recruitment agency.