Lean Into The Curve

Now is the time to think strate­gi­cally about re­cruit­ment and come up with a plan for the up­turn

Alberta Oil - - SMART MONEY -

PER­HAPS NO OIL-PRO­DUC­ING COUN­TRY

has suf­fered more keenly from the oil price slump than Canada, los­ing around 100,000 di­rect and in­di­rect jobs in the sec­tor since the start of the down­turn.

Things cer­tainly look bleak, but let’s be clear here: The oil price will in­crease again and, as projects be­come vi­able, the la­bor mar­ket will heat up as de­mand for skilled work­ers in­creases. The B.C. gov­ern­ment, for ex­am­ple, es­ti­mates that up to 100,000 jobs will be cre­ated if the province’s five LNG projects are all re­al­ized. That’s the in­dus­try’s to­tal num­ber of jobs lossed across Canada re­versed by one sub-sec­tor in one province alone. Re­cruit­ing skilled work­ers will then be­come even more dif­fi­cult, with la­bor de­mand in each province hav­ing a knock-on ef­fect on the oth­ers.

It may seem counter-in­tu­itive given the cur­rent state of the in­dus­try, but now is the time that Cana­dian en­ergy com­pa­nies need to think strate­gi­cally about re­cruit­ment, and come up with a plan for the up­turn.

The global oil in­dus­try has, for a long time, strug­gled to en­sure con­tin­u­ous suc­ces­sion of hu­man re­sources as older gen­er­a­tions look to re­tire­ment. This makes the job mar­ket par­tic­u­larly com­pet­i­tive and good peo­ple dif­fi­cult to at­tract and re­tain. While in its cur­rent trough, the Cana­dian oil sec­tor has to do what is ne­c­es­sary to sur­vive and there are con­tin­ued fore­casts of job losses in the coun­try. In­deed, Canada of­fers one of the low­est rat­ings for job se­cu­rity in the oil and gas sec­tor. Such swift and bru­tal job cuts make em­ploy­ees ner­vous and can drive them to look to other in­dus­tries as a more se­cure source of in­come. It cer­tainly means that, even if they have loy­alty to the oil and gas sec­tor, they will have lit­tle al­le­giance to in­di­vid­ual em­ploy­ers and most are highly ge­o­graph­i­cally mo­bile. And who can blame them?

B.C’s planned LNG fa­cil­i­ties will mean the po­ten­tial for tens of thou­sands of jobs to be cre­ated. Find­ing the right peo­ple with the right tech­ni­cal skills in the right lo­ca­tion will be vi­tal to both re­cov­ery of the tra­di­tional Cana­dian oil in­dus­try and the suc­cess of pro­posed LNG projects.

Ac­cess to a global net­work of in­dus­try spe­cial­ists is fun­da­men­tal to giv­ing the Cana­dian oil and gas sec­tor the flex­i­bil­ity it needs to ride through the chal­lenges it con­tin­ues to face. This will help en­sure rapid re­sponse to growth op­por­tu­ni­ties by quickly find­ing the right peo­ple and skills when needed. The flu­id­ity of the mar­ket in terms of ge­o­graph­i­cal com­pe­ti­tion and volatile mar­ket in­flu­ences makes re­cruit­ment ver­sa­til­ity and agility a cru­cial factor for long-term suc­cess. Find­ing per­son­nel with par­tic­u­lar ex­pe­ri­ence in pro­duc­tion from oil sands adds fur­ther chal­lenges.

Although re­cent job losses may ob­scure the re­al­ity of skills avail­abil­ity, the global en­ergy in­dus­try faces sig­nif­i­cant skills short­ages for the fu­ture. Tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als will come at a pre­mium and com­pe­ti­tion to at­tract them will be high. The cur­rent pro­posed in­vest­ment in LNG gives an op­por­tu­nity for B.C to be ahead of the curve on this drive to re­cruit.

Com­pa­nies that are loyal to their em­ploy­ees now and in­vest in re­cruit­ing the right peo­ple may well have a clear ad­van­tage in the fu­ture. And while strate­gic projects such as LNG may help to smooth the vo­latil­ity of the job mar­ket in Canada, they will not sta­bi­lize it com­pletely.

The en­ergy in­dus­try is renowned for its vo­latil­ity and will strug­gle to re­cruit the right peo­ple into the right place at the right time. In an in­dus­try that is truly global, with em­ploy­ees that are equally global and will­ing to travel for the best posi­tons, op­er­a­tions in Canada face more chal­lenges than most.

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