All Posts Tagged With: "oil industry"
Canada can no longer count on oil to produce jobs
In his 25 years in the oil industry, Preston Reum has seen his share of booms and busts. Back in 1989, when Alberta’s oil industry was in the midst of a downturn and unemployment in cities like Edmonton topped 10 per cent, Reum collected T4 slips from 11 different employers as he jumped from one job to the next in search of a steady paycheque.
“You’d have a friend and whoever got a job, we went and worked on that rig and when that job was done, you’d know another guy running a rig and you’d go there,” says Reum, now a general manager at service-rig contractor Essential Energy Services. “You just stuck with it and worked for anybody that had a job.”
With each boom-bust cycle in Alberta, Reum has lost friends and employees, tired of the long, cold days in remote work camps, weeks of unpaid downtime and the uncertainty of living paycheque to paycheque. When the industry took a hit in 2008 and 2009 in the midst of the global recession, Reum says workers left in droves for jobs in the construction industry or mining in Saskatchewan, while others took up plumbing apprenticeships in the cities. Many experienced workers who had flown in from Atlantic Canada went home and never returned. Reum says the jobs that skilled workers found after leaving the industry often came close to matching the salaries in the oil sands, while also offering regular pay and nine-to-five days at job sites much closer to home.
But numbers are increasing
Well-paid jobs are luring more women to the rigs and vessels that draw oil from the ocean floor more than 300 kilometres east of St. John’s, N.L., but life offshore is still very much a man’s world.
At any given time there are more than 700 workers toiling in all kinds of weather at the major Hibernia, Terra Nova and SeaRose sites. Only about five per cent of them are women, and even fewer hold jobs outside of housekeeping or the kitchens, says the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
And while government and industry efforts to boost those numbers have seen more women enter training that could lead them offshore, there are persistent barriers. They include the stark reality that many women with young children can’t see themselves working a schedule of three weeks on, three weeks off that takes them away from home for six months of the year.