Upgrading employees in front of one of the world's largest vacuum distillation units.
(Picture courtesy of Syncrude Canada Ltd.)
Faced with increased economic development, an aging workforce and declining birth rates, the Alberta labour market is finding itself struggling to find skilled tradespeople. This is the reality in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB), where high levels of oilsands development require more skilled workers.
The skill and labour shortage in Alberta has created an opportunity for new labour pools to fill the need. Women, Aboriginal people and disabled people are all under-employed groups of the workforce that have not historically been employed to their full potential.
This issue of the Labour Market News will examine employment programs and services available to Aboriginal people in the RMWB.
“Canada is experiencing an Aboriginal baby boom,” says Kelly Lendsay, president and CEO of the Aboriginal Human Resource Development Council of Canada (AHRDCC). “Aboriginal people are the nation’s youngest and fastest growing human resource…this young, upwardly mobile labour force wants and needs workplace opportunities for training, skills development and employment.”
Census 2006 results
According to the RMWB Census 2006, 12 per cent of the respondents within the RMWB are of Aboriginal ancestry. An obvious advantage for the local labour market is that these workers are already here, eliminating relocation issues and the subsequent costs associated with relocation.
The Aboriginal population is becoming an increasingly skilled segment of the population, putting them at the forefront of potential solutions to RMWB’s labour needs. Although the Aboriginal unemployment rate across the province is substantially higher than the overall provincial rate, the number of Aboriginal people working in the oil and gas industry in the RMWB, follow the overall RMWB norm. According to Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry’s Labour Force Statistics, the unemployment rate for Aboriginal people in December 2006 was 6.7 per cent, down from 8.7 per cent one year ago. Alberta’s overall unadjusted three-month moving average unemployment rate was 3.1 per cent in December. Visit www.employment.gov.ab.ca/cps/rde/xchg/hre/hs.xsl/2599.html for more information on monthly statistics.
There are numerous organizations and programs here to help increase employment opportunities for Aboriginal people in the RMWB. Two well-known programs are the Alberta Aboriginal Apprenticeship Project: Think Trades (see below) and the Aboriginal Mine Works (AMW) program, which is governed by the Wood Buffalo Partners in Aboriginal Training Association (WBPATA).
The AMW initiative was created in 2003/2004 to help improve employment opportunities for Aboriginal people by providing employability and occupational skills training for long-term employment in the oilsands industry.
The Aboriginal Mine Works program is a partnership between the Athabasca Tribal Council, Métis Nations of Alberta, Métis Local 1935, industry and the provincial and federal governments. See page 3 for more information on the Aboriginal Mine Works program.
The information in this issue of Labour Market News was current as of the date shown. Employment outlook, salaries and educational programs may change. Please verify the information with additional sources before making career or business investment decisions. Contact us for more information.