Laid off oil and gas workers look for work beyond the oilpatch

CALGARY - For 36 years, Sue Jones rode out the ups and downs of Alberta's oilpatch. But after she was laid off last March, she knew her days in the oil and gas industry were over.

See Full Article

"I'm done," said Jones, 56, who worked in data management and document control before she was let go.

"I'm older. I've been laid off so many times in oil and gas."

Great pay and plenty of jobs attracted thousands to the province, but as the decline in crude prices stretches on, some industry veterans are deciding they can no longer take the boom and bust roller-coaster.

Jones says this downturn is "the worst one" she's seen, and figures released Tuesday by Statistics Canada would appear to back her up. Alberta lost 19,600 jobs last year - the most since 1982.

After months of searching, Jones finally found a job last week working in the back office of a heat and power supply company in Calgary. She has taken a pay cut, but says she won't be going back to the oilpatch.

Lynn Berry, a Calgary career counsellor who also runs a government-supported career boot camp, says more people need to start looking elsewhere.

"People just need to get out of this, 'I need to find work in the oil and gas, and I need to make X number of dollars,' because the reality of today's economy, it might not happen and they need to figure out what they're going to do next," said Berry.

"If we're feeling bad we tend to cocoon, and we tend to fall back on what we've done in the past, and what we're saying now is that's just not working." said Berry. "If you're just waiting until it comes back, then you're wasting your time and your skills and your talent."

Susan MacDonald, a registered psychologist and career counsellor, says the downturn is a great opportunity for people to look for a career that better suits them.

"When they get laid off they're seeing it as an opportunity to say, 'Maybe I should go and check things out,"' said MacDonald.

One of her clients in her late 20s left a career as an economist in the oil industry to go to nursing school. Another in his late 30s left an information technology career in the industry to go to school to become a doctor.

Curtis Buxton spent 17 years working in the oil and gas sector before losing his job last March as a project manager for oilfield services company Schlumberger.

Two weeks after getting laid off, Buxton was taking a solar industry course in B.C. and looking for work in the renewable energy sector. It took a few months, but a project manager position finally opened up at SkyFire Energy in Calgary.

Recruiters say many companies are hesitant to hire oil and gas workers because they're concerned they will jump back to the industry when it recovers. But Buxton says he had already approached the company several times showing his interest.

"I was persistent and I showed that I wanted to enter the industry," said Buxton.

Like most who leave the oil and gas industry, he has taken a pay cut, but he says it was the right move.

"Realizing this was something I was pretty sure was going to make me happy was also a strong motivator for taking that pay cut."

Nathan Tomusange was laid off from a company manufacturing oil rig equipment in March last year.

To switch industries he went back to school for a supply management course. But he says after sending out dozens of resumes, he's only had one call back from a potential employer, and that company eventually chose someone with more experience.

At 54 with three boys at home, he says he isn't waiting around for his ideal job and has started looking into getting a taxi license. But he's also continuing with more courses, trying to figure out which industry will offer the most stability.

"We're all wondering where the jobs are," he said. "Where are they? What industries?"



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Busting superfoods: CBC's Marketplace consumer cheat sheet

    Economic CBC News
    Analyzing Quebec's Bill 62 A new Quebec law prohibits public workers, and those receiving a government service from covering their faces. (Peter McCabe/Canadian Press) Now that the controversial bill has been adopted into law, what does it mean for women who wear a niqab or burka? For now, many important details still need to be sorted out and its implications may end up being decided by a court. Source
  • Walmart ramps up self-checkout by letting customers ring in items while shopping

    Economic CBC News
    When Laura Schnurr tried out scan and go at Walmart in Ancaster, Ont., she was immediately hooked. The new technology allows customers to scan and tally up their items while shopping, saving them time at checkout. Source
  • Judge overturns $417M award against Johnson & Johnson in ovarian cancer case

    Economic CBC News
    A judge on Friday tossed out a $417-million US jury award to a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer by using Johnson & Johnson talc-based baby powder for feminine hygiene. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Maren Nelson granted the company's request for a new trial, saying there were errors and jury misconduct in the previous trial that ended with the award two months ago. Source
  • Long-term future of Bombardier's other commercial aircraft unclear: analysts

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Bombardier's strategic C Series partnership with Airbus should put it on stronger financial footing but it remains unclear what fate awaits its other commercial aircraft. The Montreal-based transportation company remains burdened by more than US$9 billion of debt and wants to regain its leading position in the high-margin business jet market. Source
  • Questions and answers on proposed ban on laptops in luggage

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- First the U.S. government temporarily banned laptops in the cabins of some airplanes. Now it is looking to ban them on from checked luggage on international flights, citing the risk of potentially catastrophic fires. Source
  • So, who in Canada actually applied to be Amazon's next HQ2?

    Economic CBC News
    Amazon's announcement earlier this year that it wants a second headquarters set off a flurry of interest from cities across the continent, all eager to be a new home to the biggest online merchandise seller in the world. Source
  • Nature's Mix removes cancer claim from granola label after Marketplace investigation into 'superfoods'

    Economic CBC News
    Nature's Mix, a company that makes granola with quinoa that it markets as a "superfood" and that included a nutrition label that claimed quinoa "prevents cancer" has removed the claim after a Marketplace investigation. The old nutrition label on Nature's Mix Superfood Granola with quinoa listed a series of purported health benefits associated with the grain: energy booster, sleep aid, controls blood sugar, curbs food craving, weight control, lower cholesterol, prevents cancer. Source
  • So, which Canadian cities actually applied to be Amazon's next HQ?

    Economic CBC News
    Amazon's announcement earlier this year that it wants a second headquarters set off a flurry of interest from cities across the continent, all eager to be a new home to the biggest online merchandise seller in the world. Source
  • Yellen says Fed's extraordinary policies may be needed again

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Friday defended the central bank's extraordinary efforts to fight the Great Recession and said they might be needed again. During the recession, the Fed pushed short-term interest rates to zero. Source
  • Half of Tim Hortons franchisees in Canada join unsanctioned group

    Economic CTV News
    Less than a year after it was created, a group looking to raise Tim Hortons franchisees' concerns over the chain's management has recruited half of all of Tim Hortons Canadian franchisees into its ranks. The Great White North Franchisee Association president David Hughes said in a letter sent to all franchisees that half of the chain's franchisees have shown they support the significant issues the group publicizes. Source