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Solving Oil & Gas labour challenges collaboratively

A Canadian approach to balancing the people equation in oil sands


balancing_HR_challengesThe human resource challenge in the oil and gas sector is global; only the degrees of challenge differ. The Q3/Q4 2011 HR Trends and Insights survey published by Deloitte and the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada (PHRCC), reports challenges for oil and gas companies in Canada that will sound familiar to an Australian O&G sector reader:

  • Attraction and retention of talent
  • Labour and skills shortages
  • Managing employee turnover/retention
  • Benefits and compensation expectations
  • Productivity and employee engagement.

In the Canadian case, peak labour demand given the ramp up in oil sands production – especially construction, operations and engineering – is now forecast at 52,000 workers in 2015. This equates to more than half (55%) of the total labour supply projected to be available for the majority of required core skills over the same period. And that’s before accounting for growing demand from other energy sub-sectors that also depend on the same skills.

In the face of this reality a number of possible courses of action suggest themselves. These include the standard panoply of human capital responses, including increased investment in training at the individual company level, internal redeployment and transfers, use of contractors, productivity enhancements, worker mobility programs, offshoring and workforce diversification.

Each of these activities is likely to make an impact. However the thesis of the opinion piece is that, pursued by individual organisations in isolation, the results are likely to be less pronounced or effective than if pursued collaboratively across stakeholder domains.

This opinion piece may originate from the forecast Canadian oil sands experience, however it identifies specific opportunities for a collaborative approach to human capital challenges, both between oil sands companies as well as different stakeholder groups, which is worth broader consideration.

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