CALGARY – Canada’s oil and gas workforce is expected to shrink this year thanks to a spate of layoffs linked to corporate mergers and low levels of oilfield activity before staging a modest rebound over the next two years.
Energy labour data firm PetroLMI, a division of Energy Safety Canada, says there will be a need for net hiring in 2022 and 2023 but there will still be fewer overall jobs than there were in 2019.
In its three-year forecast, PetroLMI says direct industry employment is projected to rise to about 176,000 jobs by 2023, up modestly from this year’s levels, but down almost 7% from the 2019 total of 188,800 jobs.
The Calgary-based oilpatch has been cutting costs and jobs for years due to low oil prices and a lack of capital to invest in growth projects, contributing to record-high vacancy rates in the city’s downtown office towers and an unemployment rate of more than 10% in Calgary.
Cenovus Energy Inc. has said its takeover of rival Husky Energy Inc. will result in cutting between 1,720 and 2,150 workers from the combined workforce. Meanwhile, job cuts were also announced late last year at Suncor Energy Inc. and Imperial Oil Ltd.
PetroLMI says the industry will need about 19,800 net new workers by 2023 — 7,800 due to industry activity and almost 12,000 replacement roles for those who are expected to retire.
“While some of these gains are encouraging, it is important to remember this follows a long downturn and the COVID-19 pandemic during which industry employment has contracted substantially,” said Carol Howes, vice-president of communication and PetroLMI for Energy Safety Canada.
“With the magnitude of the downsizing since 2014, the industry will be challenged to attract workers back, particularly in the oil and gas services subsector – which is starting to experience skills gaps.” 29dk2902l