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Canada’s oil industry, lacking critical manpower, projected to grow nearly two-fold by 2020

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Oilsands production is expected to bounce from 45% to 80% of production capacity by 2020. The province of Alberta’s unemployment rate is at a near record low and the demand for manpower far exceeds the available supply of skilled workers in many sectors of the economy.

The country’s production of crude will nearly double over the next 15 years leaving glaring holes in manpower. “Some 40,000 new trade apprentices are needed just to complete all the construction projects planned around Vancouver for the next 10 years,” RBC Financial Group chief executive Gordon Nixon said. “And with Alberta predicting a shortfall of as many as 100,000 workers over the next 10 years, competition for labour will be fierce in the West.”

“If Canada is to succeed in the global economy, we must ensure that the whole country has a capable workforce. And it’s not just about skilled workers for the construction and oil industries,” Nixon explains, highlighting the importance of immigration to Canada’s future prosperity.

“It is not an issue anymore it is a crisis,” says ex-Minister of Economic Development, Mark Norris. “I think we have to talk about the oil sands and the oil and gas industry in Alberta as a Canadian project and start talking about the opportunity [which exists] here.”

Statistics Canada (StatsCan) predicted a massive labour shortage affecting Western Canada in a report issued six years ago. It cites Canada’s aging baby boom generation, today’s unprecedented demand for oil and gas, and the lack of qualified personnel as the impetus to cultivating a huge strain on the workforce and the sector in general. In fact, Canada’s prairies will see a worker shortage not unlike it experienced since the time of World War II. It is estimated that in Alberta alone, by 2010, employers will need to fill 400,000 new jobs.