Not too many years ago, Alberta’s economy was stable with an abundance of work. But as the oil and gas economy declined in 2014, industry-related work changed in Fort McMurray, Edmonton, Calgary and elsewhere.
Trade workers from Eastern Canada moved back home, impacting real estate sales and rental vacancies. Doubt about the provincial economy settled in people’s minds.
But it’s a new day in the province. Technology and a push for improvement of personal skills are creating opportunities for some to move back and others to acquire an education that will help provide longevity in the workplace.
Change in the Canadian oil and gas industry is inspiring trade workers to learn new skills in a globally competitive market. They need to remain relevant in the workplace.
At the start of the year, there were 462,000 job openings across the country. At least 7,500 jobs opened up in Alberta in the first three months of the year. There was an increase of 18.5 per cent of employment in mining, in addition to the extraction of oil and gas.
At the same time, some trades workers have begun using existing and new skills to create businesses to partner directly with oil and gas companies.
New jobs will slowly replace conventional roles in the fields of natural science, environmental work and others, and Alberta is the prime place for these new occupations. In the past, field workers didn’t need digital skills. However, data analytics will increasingly be a regular part of the job.
At the same time, software engineers, analytics specialists, data managers and instrumentation technologists will continue to be relevant.
Calgary’s business sector is optimistic despite the negative impacts of the recession over the past four years. According to a recent report by Calgary Economic Development and the Calgary Chamber, more than half of local businesses said they plan to hire new employees in the next year.
Alberta’s Energy Diversification Act became official in the spring, creating an opportunity for businesses to access $2 billion in funding for diversification projects. The opportunities include bitumen upgrading and petrochemicals. About 8,000 operational jobs could open up for professionals with required skills.
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau has talked about creating “good, middle-class jobs, including in Indigenous communities.” It’s forecast that 80,000 Canadian baby boomers will soon retire. That’s a huge gap to fill. Technologically advanced professionals with interest in material science, data science and robotics can take advantage of those opportunities, if prepared.
In oil and gas, those opportunities include improving technological skills, self-employment or changing careers to fill in-demand roles.
Alberta has an abundance of job vacancies to be filled by new graduates and seasoned professionals with the will to adapt to succeed. Workers prepared to enhance their skills and knowledge will find places in the workplace of the future.
Makeda Waterman is a professional writer with clips from CNBC Make It, Huffington Post, Glassdoor.com, Elite Daily, Fast Company, among others. She owns an online writing business and enjoys travelling in her spare time.