Like everywhere else, Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo are affected by economic ups and downs.
A few years ago, activity in the region was booming and many employers were having a hard time finding and keeping workers. Today, activity has slowed, but there are still many job opportunities out there.
In August 2009, the region had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the province at 5.3 per cent. But before packing your bags and heading north, there are a few things to consider.
“Job seekers should first research Fort McMurray and the housing prices, so they know what they’re getting into,” says Marion Boyd, manager of human resources at Suncor Energy, one of the region’s major oil sands mining companies.
“Sometimes people come up here because they hear about the demand for labour, but when they get here and see the housing prices and the apartment rentals—both in terms of availability and cost—they see it’s quite limited and expensive. They should do their research first and apply to the companies before they come up.”
There are three main types of employment available in the region:
Oilsands mining companies: These companies directly employ tradespeople, engineers, technologists, plant operations staff, managers and administration staff.
Contractors for oilsands companies: These companies are contracted to a mining company to provide services such as construction, security, cleaning or maintenance. For example, an oil sands company will contract a company for construction projects. Contract workers can work at an oil sands plant or mine sites or at other locations.
Indirect employment: Growth in the oil sands creates community growth and an increased need for goods and services. For every oil sands job created in Wood Buffalo, two service or support jobs will be created in another industry.
There are high paying jobs in Wood Buffalo, but you need the proper qualifications, training and education.
Also, don’t assume that every job in Fort McMurray pays better than anywhere else. The jobs are generally better paying, but not always.
A labourer can make more here, but a nurse generally makes the same across the province. See the wage comparison of selected industries in the table below.
Where are the job postings?
The Internet is a good starting point. Vacant positions are often posted on employment databases and company websites. Here are a few useful websites:
Fort McMurray Today (local daily newspaper): www.fortmcmurraytoday.com
Canadian Government job bank: www.jobbank.gc.ca
Alberta Government Public Service: www.pao.gov.ab.ca/jobs
Alberta Health Services: www.healthjobs.ab.ca/SearchResults.aspx
Database of businesses that belong to the Fort McMurray Construction Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association: www.redlink.ca
Alberta Government site (links to other job banks):
Links to employer websites: woodbuffalo.net/linksEMPLIntro.html
Visit an employment service provider for help
There are several local service providers that have job boards and other employment services to help you find work.
Look at Career and Employment Services for a list of organizations and their contact information.
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.