2020 started with two unimaginable global events, the pandemic and collapse in crude oil prices, this was then exacerbated locally by one of the worst floods in the history of this community. With the events of the last year and a half, there is a much different future for our community and industry than envisioned a few years ago.
Given this new reality, the oil sands sector has experienced changes as it moves, from a period of expansion into a phase focused on improving the reliability and performance of existing operations. Some transitions that were underway have been accelerated with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the oil sands industry adjusts to these changes and competing in the global marketplace, the workforce requirements have also adjusted, moving from growth and construction jobs to maintenance and operations roles. This is an important time to understand the impacts of policies that protect competitiveness, and support for innovation and technology in strategic planning for future workforce requirements.
Labour forecasts show that direct employment in the sector across Canada will see modest growth, climbing to about 176,000 by 2023, rising above 2020 levels. However, the forecast still expects employment to lag below 2019 levels when 188,800 people worked in the sector.
Even with modest growth, the industry supports thousands of high-paying jobs in Wood Buffalo and across Canada. The oil sands industry continues to employ over 30 percent of the local workforce in Wood Buffalo. Our focus continues to ensure we have the people with the right skills so we can deliver oil and gas projects on time and on budget.
The Oil Sands Community Alliance is hosting a virtual webinar on Workforce Trends in the Oil Sands Industry on October 21 at 10 am. The session, featuring panelists from Imperial Oil, CNOOC International Ltd., Fort McMurray First Nation Group of companies, and Acden aims to provide an understanding of workforce practices in the oil sands industry highlighting the impact of COVID-19, current and future trends as well as opportunities and challenges related to skills and recruitment.
Register here: Oil Sands Conference and Trade Show