The Lakeland region is actively seeking to fill crucial roles for skilled workers within the oil and gas industry. The scarcity of labour has left companies faced with ongoing under-staffing challenges. 

Serina Parsons, executive director of the Bonnyville and District Chamber of Commerce, highlights the availability of oil and gas jobs that remain unfilled, sometimes due to companies struggling with the challenge of offering competitive compensation.  

“Many businesses and smaller contract companies can’t keep up with the pay rate of some of the larger companies, and so it is harder for them to keep and maintain employees,” explains Parsons. 

She emphasizes the abundance of opportunities within the oil and gas sector, despite a shortage of workers.  

“In the region, especially in oil and gas, some of the most sought-after positions are always Class 1 drivers, they always need Class 1 drivers. That’s been an ongoing issue. Pipefitters, instrumentation electricians like the combo ticket, insulators, all of those contracts, and service provider positions are definitely in high demand and harder to fill.” 

Worker Shortage 

The scarcity of workers is sometimes attributed to the escalating cost of living, prompting individuals to continue to seek a more sustainable wage.  

Parsons explains, “The price of living has gone up, and the price of housing and rent has increased, so the certain amount people are getting paid may not be exactly what they’re looking for.” 

The longstanding labour shortage in the region persists alongside another pressing concern – a demand for skilled workers.  

“We have jobs and positions available that need to be filled, and we have people who are trying to fill those positions, but yet people are saying they are having a hard time getting work. Well, do they have a ticket? Do they have their safety tickets? Do they have their courses, like First Aid, H2S, all of those things? Those jobs still need to hire people who are qualified for the position.” 

The staffing shortage has escalated to the extent that companies are resorting to offering bonuses as incentives for employee retention.  

“A lot of people are just leaving, [so] some jobs are giving a retention bonus just for staying and working,” says Parsons. 

Available positions increase 

Available job positions have surged despite the labour shortage, with a notable uptick in opportunities in job postings in the last months, primarily within the oil and gas sector, alongside some in the service industry. 

“Cold Lake is the only one that has seen a decrease of 8.7 per cent, but on average, Bonnyville has seen a 20.8 per cent increase, Lac La Biche has seen a 20.1 per cent increase, Lloydminster has seen a 21.1 per cent increase, and St. Paul has seen a 37.5 per cent increase in job postings from October to November,” says Parsons. 

This persistent challenge isn’t exclusive to Bonnyville – it’s a region-wide concern spanning the entirety of the Lakeland and has persisted over time.  

“It’s all across the Lakeland and has been an ongoing issue, and it’s going to continue being an issue into the next several years.” 

Parsons maintains an optimistic perspective on the industry’s future and growth, even in the face of an ongoing labour shortage.  

“There are lots of challenges that people are facing, but the outlook for our region right now in the coming years is very positive, and I think that by working together and continuing to advocate for change through their local Chamber of Commerce, we’re finally ready for an upswing in our economic development.” 

By Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Dec 23, 2023 at 17:09

This item reprinted with permission from   Lakeland This Week   Bonnyville, Alberta

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