New Report Sheds Light On Industry Perceptions Since Downturn

Despite the economic downturn, 70 per cent of those working in the oil and gas industry intend to stay, according to a recent report from PetroLMI.

The Workforce Insights: Attitudes and Perceptions of Canadian Labour Market on Careers in Oil and Gas report follows up on research from two years earlier which surveyed working-age Canadians. Then, PetroLMI, the labour market information division of Energy Safety Canada, discovered all talent sources were questioning the long-term viability of a career in oil and gas, and many expressed they didn’t understand what skills would be required to be successful in their careers.

“With the recent results, it is encouraging to see the number of respondents who indicated the Canadian oil and gas industry is still appealing,” said Carol Howes, Vice-President, Communications and PetroLMI, Energy Safety Canada.

“The challenge for the oil and gas industry will be remaining an attractive career option if employment continues to contract further in the months and years ahead.”

Majority still consider industry viable

After two more years of industry uncertainty, more than 50 per cent of survey respondents across all age groups remained bullish on careers in oil and gas, indicating that the oil and gas industry remains a viable career option.

The 2019 results were drawn from an online survey of more than 2,000 Canadians. Survey respondents included oil and gas workers, students and new graduates, job seekers, including unemployed oil and gas workers, and those who had worked previously in oil and gas but had transitioned to another industry.

Respondents were derived from two sources: pre-screened respondents selected based on quotas by region and age, and oil and gas stakeholders contacted by PetroLMI. The combination of the two respondent groups reflected the regional distribution of oil and gas workers in Canada.

Figure 1 Survey completions by region

In the most recent survey, the majority of job seekers included oil and gas as an industry they would work in, though the per cent of job seekers looking at work in oil and gas exclusively has decreased. This suggests the industry may be competing more for their workers and may experience attrition of their workforce to other industries. Less than 10 per cent of respondents who were looking for work were looking exclusively in the oil and gas industry.

Figure 2 Viability of the oil and gas industry

Figure 3 Industry in which work is being sought

Impact of downturn still widely felt

Of the survey respondents, almost half had been impacted by the downturn (significantly less than the 70 per cent who said they were impacted in the 2017 report). Most reported impacts of fewer contracts and/or business opportunities (17 per cent), as well as an increased workload for those who kept their positions (14 per cent).

Figure 4 Impact of the downturn on employment situation or career plan

A high level of uncertainty also continues, with about 40 per cent of those still employed in the industry believing their jobs remain at risk, up slightly from 36 per cent two years earlier. For pre-screened respondents, the most significant reason for employment risk was lay-off, turnover or lack of job security (30 per cent), while for oil and gas stakeholders it was government, politics or economic policies (24 per cent). Both groups rated industry uncertainty or volatility as the second biggest risk factor.

Figure 5 Reasons cited for employment risk

Young people are an important demographic to monitor moving forward

Of the youth (aged 17-24) surveyed for the report, 46 per cent of those working in the industry intended to stay, while 41 per cent did not know, indicating oil and gas may face increasing competition with other industries for these workers. The sample group for this demographic was small (less than 100 respondents), however, making it difficult to generalize.

“The industry will need to continue to attract a variety of workers, particularly young workers, for succession planning and to fuel future development,” added Howes.

Hiring in Canada’s oil and gas industry is expected to remain flat or decline further until there is more certainty in the industry to drive new investment. Occupations related to the implementation and maintenance of new technology (for example, data analysis, process automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning), as well as those dealing with public consultation and regulatory compliance will be in demand and may appeal to youth.

PetroLMI is a leading resource for labour market information and trends in the Canadian petroleum industry, and specializes in providing labour market data, analysis and insights, as well as occupational profiles and other resources for workforce and career planning.