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Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…

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Only 1/3 Of Oil Patch Jobs To Return To Canada After Downturn Ends

Despite higher oil prices, only one-third of the Canadian oil patch jobs lost since 2015 are expected to return due to rapid technical innovation during the past three years of low oil prices, according to a new report by E&P Mag.

“The good news is that Alberta oil and gas companies are figuring out how to prosper and thrive in a low-price environment. The bad news is that the strategies that are allowing them to do that involve using fewer people and creating fewer jobs,” Gil McGowan, head of the Alberta Federation of Labour and co-chair of the Alberta Government’s Energy Diversification Advisory Committee, told the industry publication. “They’re finding new ways to squeeze out what managers call ‘efficiencies’ but for working people, it means fewer jobs.”

Digital technologies, automation and outsourcing are the biggest ways companies are developing their operations to reduce the size of their workforce and cut costs. Still, Canada is slower than its peers in automating jobs, says Mark Salkeld, CEO of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada.

“Some of this technology sounds like future think, maybe too much for the oil patch to digest at this point in time. We are famously known for taking our time to adopt and adapt but we do eventually,” he said.

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Carl Howes, vice president of communication for the research group Petro LMI, who performed the labor study cited by E&P Mag, still had hope that there will rewarding careers for young professionals looking to work in the energy sector, despite the results of the latest survey.

“Part of our job really is to explain to younger workers that there’s going to be opportunity going forward, in fact, some of these jobs will be more interesting from a technological point of view and from a skills point of view,” Howes said. “But right now there’s certainly a concern that they’ve become quite discouraged by this downturn. We did a survey in the fall and certainly got that feedback.”

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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