Skip to comments.Wanted: engineers for oilsands growth
Posted on 04/10/2012 5:08:57 AM PDT by thackney
As Alberta's oilsands developers get set to expand or launch new projects, recruiting firm Randstad Canada is telling them to expect a tougher time finding the seasoned engineers and managers they so desperately want.
"Pretty much every category now is in yellow working toward red (extreme shortage) because the expansion in Alberta is just massive," said Mike Winterfield, president of the professionals division for Randstad.
The most in-demand engineering positions include civil, mechanical and electrical with expertise in areas such as pipe design, instrumentation and project management.
Randstad rates the shortages by how much time and effort it takes to fill a position.
"If we work for a client and one job takes us five hours to fill and another 48 hours or longer, that is a signal. The number of people we can find per job order is the metric that we look at," said Winterfield, who notes his firm will use its job-seeker files, referrals and links throughout industry to approach potential candidates.
And the toughest task is finding mid-career engineers with 10 to 20 years of experience.
So Randstad is advising clients to get creative, to think of ways to spread the leadership around by building teams of engineers with varying levels of experience.
"There is a gap between the seasoned professional and new graduates, and companies need to provide a transition. If there are no jobs available for new graduates we have lost our supply for the future, and we will never get the numbers of seasoned staff companies want," he said.
And money is not the biggest factor when experienced engineers change employers.
"It is rarely money, the most recent poll found a pleasant work environment. That includes an innovative company that offers both challenges and job security, with a positive image where people are proud to work," said Winterfield.
Syncrude Canada, which has a large demand for engineers and tradesmen, has had great success in keeping long-term employees, says spokeswoman Cheryl Robb.
"We have more than 450 employees who have had 30-plus year careers with us and who are still employed with us. Many of Syncrude's senior employees are pioneers in the oilsands industry, and they have invaluable knowledge to share, and this helps attract young professionals who are starting out in their careers," she said.
Like many large firms, Syncrude has a mentoring program for new employees that pairs them with more experienced employees to make new employees more comfortable in their roles and give them the opportunity to learn the work from a seasoned, experienced role model.
Robb adds Syncrude has always promoted apprenticeships and partnerships with post secondary institutions, and more than 200 post-secondary students have work-terms at Syncrude each year.
As Alberta's shortages worsen, Winterfield says projects won't stall for lack of talent.
"Firms will recruit from abroad, and take engineers from other streams or industries and cross-train them to retrofit them into areas more in line with demand," he said.
"It all depends on how wide you cast your net. But in the end, firms can always open the chequebook, and we will see them paying more and headhunting more (as they chase a scarce resource). But that can be a dangerous game."
I work for an American Oil Company and find it sad that we are able to attract so few Americans to work as professionals in our industry.
Right now I have a Nigerian national and Indian National working alongside me. When I got the opportunity to expand the group further, it seems the only people qualified to be interviewed included a Venezuelan National, a Turkish National and an Indian National.
These are high paying jobs. Since I am at retirement age, the prospects of competent people replacing me are slim unless our company looks beyond our shores.
We need a concerted effort to increase the technical abilities of our people in the engineering field, and especially increase the awareness of opportunties such as this.
The vile tongue of Obama towards a very American enterprise can only be interpreted as Hate, and is certainly not good for this country.
Koch Industries claims to have 2500 openings, including engineering jobs in the US.
Here in Western Pennsylvania the shale gas boom is underway, and it has become apparent that we need to train workers for these jobs, as they are unlikely to keep coming here from Texas or Alberta. You can hear radio ads pleading for candidates to come and sign up for the training programs.
It is rather funny to see companies like Randstad come into town and try to recruit “experienced local workers” for these jobs. Our local oil and gas industry pretty much died out when Col. Drake’s original discoveries petered out in the early 20th. Century.
I have a distant nephew that recently got his degree in the petroleum/engineering field (sorry, I don't have a lot of details). He works on a Gulf platform two weeks, then goes to Texas for additional voluntary schooling on his two weeks off. Apparently, he's making a killing and making his Mom & Dad (and America) real proud.
Sounds like the engineer who sent Obamao his resume last year and is still unemployed needs to move to Alberta.
I’m not sure how the skill set of designing semi-conductors transfers to the oil field.
“Im not sure how the skill set of designing semi-conductors transfers to the oil field.”
My father-in-law has been designing, building and selling custom oil flow control instruments to oil companies for decades. It would not seem to be a far leap to design control devices instead of semi-conductors.
Ask your FIL how easily he could become a semi-conductor design engineer.
This situation points up the flaw of insisting that all high school graduates go to a four year college. Some kids are just not cut out for college, or are flat not interested. In those cases, why not encourage them to take up a trade? We need good plumbers, electricians, pipefitters, steel workers, etc. as much or more than we need lawyers, doctors, or accountants.