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Embracing the Winds of Change: Securing Canada's Energy Future through a Transformed Workforce

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The global energy landscape is continually changing, and Canada's energy sector is at the forefront. As the world unites to combat climate change and pursue net-zero emissions, the Canadian energy industry is facing different challenges and opportunities in its workforce. Changes in technology, environmental consciousness, and an ageing workforce are all key factors facing energy-focused businesses in Canada and beyond. The Energy Works Career Expo will bring together industry leaders and job seekers from across the country to convene in Calgary, Alberta from September 19-20, 2023 to connect, engage, and discover career opportunities in energy.

The shift to sustainable energy solutions is a priority in the energy sector, urging the industry as a whole to look beyond traditional fossil fuels and embrace cleaner alternatives. The energy industry is increasingly turning to low-carbon solutions that require a workforce with advanced skill sets. Today, 45% of workers in the energy sector require tertiary education, ranging from university degrees to specialized certifications. The demand for highly skilled professionals is evident, and we must educate our workforce with the knowledge and expertise to spearhead the transition toward a greener future. Collaborating with academic institutions and vocational training centers to develop specialized programs that cater to the emerging needs of the energy sector is critical to remain current with the ongoing changes in the industry.

“Our educational focus shifted over the past decade from traditional energy sources to creatingand capturing energy in innovative new ways,” says Jon Cornish, Chancellor of the University of Calgary. “We are always looking for educators, students and industry leaders to help our post-secondary institutions continue to grow this rapidly developing industry.”

Encouraging young talent to pursue careers in the energy industry is another crucial pillar of our workforce transformation. By instilling a sense of purpose and pride in the roles they play in shaping the world's energy future, we can attract the brightest minds and inspire them to embark on a fulfilling journey within the sector.

The province of Alberta stands poised to experience a remarkable 164% surge in clean energy jobs over the next decade, illustrating the urgency of embracing sustainable practices. This remarkable growth not only underscores the industry's potential but also highlights the need to prepare our workforce for the challenges ahead. It is imperative that we invest in education and training programs that equip our workers with the technical proficiency demanded by this new era.

While the drive toward sustainability presents promising prospects, it also poses formidable challenges. One pressing concern is the demographic shift within the energy workforce. The labour pool is shrinking as experienced workers approach retirement age, leaving behind critical knowledge and expertise that must be transferred to the next generation. Reattracting experienced professionals and attracting fresh talent has proven to be an uphill battle, exacerbated further by the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have seen a large demand for diversity in the energy sector workforce. Although a male-dominant industry, there are more and more we women entering the workforce and becoming leaders in the energy industry”, says Katie Smith Parent, Executive Director, Young Women in Energy (YWE). “It’s so exciting to see the interest and incredible talent that is entering the industry, hunger to help solve our biggest challenges, but we always need more. Through YWE, we have an incredible group of female professionals who are building their networks and supporting and role modeling the future of energy for young talent.”

These workforce demographic concerns cannot be overlooked. Canada's oil and gas industry is projected to face a net hiring requirement of 19,820 jobs over the forecast period. While industry activity accounts for 7,840 of these positions, a staggering 11,980 jobs are needed to counterbalance the impact of age-related attrition. Notably, Alberta anticipates a remarkable 164% surge in clean energy jobs over the coming decade, underscoring the industry's potential and the pressing need to prepare the workforce for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

To secure Canada's energy future, a proactive approach to workforce planning is essential. A culture of continuous learning and upskilling among existing employees is required to bridge the skills gap and empower them to adapt to evolving technologies and industry demands.

The Energy Works Career Expo is the only career expo specifically dedicated to making connections with job-seekers to companies that are hiring in the Canadian energy sector, including oil & gas, electrification and utilities, hydrogen and CCUS sectors. This event is for everyone from high-level engineers to new graduates who are looking for employment or to find their ideal job. Every exhibitor on display is currently recruiting for roles in their company.