Archive for March, 2012

Alberta Premier Alison Redford on a Recruitment Drive

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

This is a sign on the times. I have been discussing the forth coming labour shortages for several years now. Premier Brad Wall is on a recruiting tour to Ireland. Here is a great article from The Calgary Herold.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford will be looking for some strong workers Monday in her trip to the so-called City of Big Shoulders.

While the main focus of the premier’s mission to Chicago this week is highlighting Alberta’s energy relationship with the United States — including the role of the oilsands — the province’s labour shortage will also be on her mind as she meets with political officials and union leaders.

“There’s a lot of work we’re going to do down there with respect to labour,” she said at a news conference last week.

“We’ve had discussions with a number of labour organizations in Chicago who’ve been doing work with decision-makers in the United States — and with the Canadian and U.S. ambassadors — to try to find avenues where we might be able to accelerate access of skilled labour into Alberta.”

Redford, who left for Chicago on the weekend and will stay for two more days, said in Calgary on Friday that the province is looking for workers with specific skill sets to fill key positions in Alberta.

Chicago may have a few to spare.

A new Calgary Economic Development study identifies communities in Canada — the U.S., the U.K. and Ireland — most able to fill 25 jobs that are most needed in the coming years, a list that includes engineers, geologists, nurses, plumbers and carpenters.

The top recruiting spots are Los Angeles, Phoenix and Denver, but Chicago is in the next tier of cities.

With the Alberta economy heating up — the province projects GDP to grow 3.8 per cent over the next year — demand for workers is an increasingly pressing issue for government and businesses.

Labour demand is expected to climb by more than 600,000 workers by 2021, with about 114,000 more jobs than people in the province. That includes a shortage of 1,300 engineers and 4,800 registered nurses.

In Calgary, demand for workers is anticipated to increase by almost 190,000 by 2020.

A lack of workers is already a factor in an expected drilling slowdown, with the Petroleum Services Association of Canada recently projecting the energy industry won’t drill as many wells this year, in part because of the labour crunch.

Competition for scarce workers is also one of the biggest contributors to cost inflation that threatens the oilpatch in boom times.

During the last uptick in activity between 2006 and 2008, the labour market was so tight that skyrocketing pay for Alberta oilfield workers helped push up the cost of oilsands projects.

Some were shelved or eventually scrapped.

Today, more than $110 billion of oilsands projects are back on the books; annual oilsands investment is projected to peak above $20 billion in 2014.

Energy economist Peter Tertzakian of ARC Financial Corp. said recently that cost inflation due to labour tightness is an “area of caution” for the industry in 2012.

“It’s at the margin here. We are at full capacity,” said Tertzakian. “So if there is any hint of increased spending, whether it’s a big project in the oilsands or broader oilfields, it’s going to trigger higher costs.”

Neal Hughes, a vice-president with HMA Land, which provides project management services for the energy industry, said he expects the coming shortage of workers to be more severe than in the past.

“Alberta industries have tremendous plans for hiring for the next two to five years and, with respect to skilled trades and professions, I think there is a critical shortage looming for this part of Canada,” said Hughes, who attended a Friday SEPAC luncheon where Redford spoke. “Any measures the Alberta government can take to ensure we do have that supply of labour are most important.”

Redford said she is so concerned about the issue that she’s asked deputy premier Doug Horner to put together a group of oil sector officials to speak to Alberta MPs and the national Conservative caucus on the issue.

“There needs to be some recognition of what we’re actually facing in Alberta,” she said. “It’s time for us to pool our resources.”

—_With files from Darcy Henton and Rebecca Penty, Calgary Herald.