Under-represented groups could be the answer to Canada’s oil and gas skill shortage

Protecting workers and equipment at Groundbirch, Canada

Photo: Shell/Flickr

Companies should consider under-represented groups as a viable labour source to manage the skill shortage challenging the oil and gas industry, according to a report released today by the Petroleum Human Resources Council (the Council), a division of Enform Canada. Strategies to recruit and retain key diversity groups, namely women, youth, aboriginal people, immigrants and persons with disabilities, will grow in importance as the demand for new talent continues to increase.

The report, HR Trends and Insights: Diversity in Canada’s Oil and Gas Workforce, examines the challenges and opportunities industry faces around workforce diversity and offers insight into the drivers, trends and practices for diversity and inclusion.

Demographic data of key diversity groups within the oil and gas workforce suggests progress has been made in some areas and less so in others.

From 2006 to 2011, the representation of women, Aboriginal people, immigrants and persons with disabilities increased slightly within the oil and gas workforce. Compared to Canada’s total labour force (i.e., workers across all industries), however, these key diversity groups are relatively under-represented in oil and gas. Women, for example, make up almost half of Canada’s total labour force, but are commonly under-represented in natural resource sectors, including oil and gas where they account for approximately 21 per cent of the workforce.

When it comes down to the occupations core to the oil and gas industry operations, the representation of immigrants, women and persons with disabilities is even lower when compared to these same occupations across other industries in Canada. For example, the representation of immigrants in core occupations in other industries is more than double their participation within the oil and gas industry.

There are a variety of barriers that may limit the entry of these under-represented groups into the oil and gas workforce, such as difficulties adapting to the challenges of remote locations, unwelcoming workplaces and a lack of networking opportunities.

Companies that are well-recognized as diversity leaders have engaged in diversity programs for many years and have made use of a range of targeted investments, internal programs and partnerships with external organizations. Companies implementing such programs have a better chance at attracting a wider and more diverse pool of talent.

“The business drivers for diversity and inclusion may vary from company to company,” says Claudine Vidallo, project manager of the Council’s Labour Market Information team. “Regardless of the reason, it’s clear a diverse set of experiences, perspectives and backgrounds is crucial to innovation and the development of new ideas in our industry.”

Many resources are available to support diversity strategies; however, time and effort are required to plan, measure and achieve results from diversity and inclusion programs.

Despite many examples of diversity in the oil and gas industry, very few companies use measurement and data collection to set benchmarks for diversity and inclusion programs.

“It is critical to monitor and measure the impact and success of diversity initiatives and programs in the oil and gas industry,” says Vidallo. “Companies need to devote time to collecting this type of data to create a workplace that is truly diverse.”

The Council is the primary resource to address workforce development and labour market issues in the Canadian petroleum industry. HR Trends and Insights: Diversity in Canada’s Oil and Gas Workforce is now available at no charge on the Council’s website,www.careersinoilandgas.com/labour-market-information/reports/.

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.

SOURCE: Careers in Oil & Gas 

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